JOE LOUIS

AMERICA’S FIGHTER

Adler and Widener offer a straightforward, beautifully illustrated biography of the legendary boxer. The grandson of slaves, Joe Louis Barrow moved from his native Alabama to Detroit with his large family at the age of 12. A visit to Brewster’s Gym kindles his dream of becoming a professional fighter. (He loses the “Barrow” because his name’s too long for an entry form.) After being knocked down seven times in his first amateur fight, Louis trains even harder, scoring a first-round knockout in his professional debut and earning the nickname “Brown Bomber.” The story covers his rise to the top during the Great Depression, including his victory over a white boxer; his dramatic bouts with German champion Max Schmeling; and his decision to join the Army. Another perfect marriage of words and pictures from an award-winning team, simple direct prose presents the facts while powerful paintings evoke both the greatness of the man and the glory of his achievements. Backmatter includes additional interesting facts about Louis’s life and the author’s sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-15-216480-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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SAINT VALENTINE

The most interesting feature of this retelling of a story about a saint martyred in A.D. 270 is the art, a meticulous re- creation of the medium of its subject's period. Using thousands of tiny, rectangular pieces resembling tiles, Sabuda replicates the effect of Roman mosaics. His simple designs and harmonious, gently muted colors are pleasing, and he achieves surprising subtleties of expression, considering the intractability of the medium. Actually, the illustrations work even better from a slight distance (as with a group), so that the demarcations between the tiny pieces are less predominant. The technique, which tends to congeal the action, makes relatively undramatic illustrations; still, it's a fascinating experiment that brings the ancient world to life by paying tribute to its art rather than by picturing it in a modern style. The straightforward narrative centers on Valentine as a physician whose ointment restores the sight of a jailer's blind daughter, long the saint's friend. It's implied that the long-awaited cure takes place at the moment of his offstage death; the story ends with the joy of the child's renewed vision. An unusual and attractive rendition. Historical note. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-689-31762-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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