GIRL WONDER

A BASEBALL STORY IN NINE INNINGS

A winning author-illustrator team hits a home run with this top-notch tale about Alta Weiss, who played semi-pro baseball in early 1900s. Hopkinson (Our Kansas Home, Feb. 2003, etc.) takes facts from an adult nonfiction book, Women at Play, by Barbara Gregorich, and fictionalizes them just enough to craft a compelling story. With a hint of tall-tale exaggeration, Weiss’s conversational first-person voice draws images from country life and slang from baseball. “I could read his line of thinking, clear as a catcher’s signs,” Alta observes about her new coach. Widener’s (The Twins and the Bird of Darkness, 2002, etc.) rounded, oversized figures have a legendary quality that perfectly suits the language and setting, and accurately reflect Weiss’s change of uniform from a dress in her first year to bloomers later on. In the elegant design, generous white space frames the acrylic paintings, which vary in perspective and size from humorous close-ups to a team line-up on the endpapers. Baseballs with inning numbers unobtrusively divide the story into nine parts. As a fitting end to a remarkable story, Weiss is shown following in her father’s footsteps to become a doctor, the only female in her class of 1914. A pleasure to look at and read aloud, this concludes with a timeline about women in baseball and, on the back cover, a wonderful black-and-white photograph of Alta Weiss preparing to pitch. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-83300-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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AMAZING GRACE

Grace loves to act out her favorite stories, taking every part from Joan of Arc to Mowgli. But when her class learns that they will be doing Peter Pan, the other kids tell Grace she can't have the lead: Peter's neither black nor a girl. Fortunately, Nana and Ma have contagious confidence in Grace's ability, and at the tryouts the class also agrees that Grace is best. It's easy to catch the wholesomely assertive spirit here—as Binch does, in this excellent debut, with her detailed, realistic watercolors; vibrant Grace almost springs from the page. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8037-1040-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on.

THE TEMPEST

Mirth, magic, and mischief abound in this picture-book retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

Ariel, the beloved sprite whose conjurings precipitate the eponymous tempest, gets top billing in this adaptation and recounts the narrative in the first person. Through Ariel’s eyes, readers are introduced to the powerful Prospero, his lovely daughter, Miranda, and the shipwrecked nobles who are brought to the island to right an ancient wrong. Ellinas’ picture book largely divests the tale of its colonialist underpinnings and breathes three-dimensional complexity into the major and minor characters. Caliban, for instance, is monstrous due to his callous treatment of Ariel rather than because he is racially coded as savage. Another delightful change is the depiction of Miranda, who emerges as an athletic, spirited, and beautiful nature-child whose charms are understandably irresistible to Prince Ferdinand. The text is perfectly matched by Ray’s jaw-droppingly beautiful illustrations, which will enchant readers from the front cover to the final curtain. The greens of the waters and the blues of the island’s night sky are so lush and inviting that readers will wish they could enter the book. Peppered throughout the story are italicized fragments of Shakespeare’s dialogue, giving both young and older readers something to enjoy. Large, granite-colored Caliban is plainly nonhuman; the human characters present white; Ariel is a translucent, paper white.

A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1144-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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