“A very special fairy story,” indeed.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

THE JOURNEY OF HIS LIFE

Traveling by coach across Denmark, an elderly Hans Christian Andersen recounts the story of his life to an inquisitive child, couching it as a fairy tale in which he learns to fly and inherits “the kingdom of letters.”

In this smoothly translated blend of biography and storytelling, Janisch uses Andersen’s own metaphor: The Danish writer called his memoir The Fairy Tale of My Life. Without weighting his story with specific detail (available in the author’s note), the author conveys a compelling sense of the man whose stories have been loved around the world and across centuries. Kastelic uses a variety of palettes and page designs to give this tale its wings. Both the journey and Andersen’s narrative are depicted mostly in panels—the present of the journey in light colors, the past in sepia tones. But the tales Andersen’s father reads to him as a boy and the stories the adult Andersen tells are brighter and shown in full pages. Repeated images of flight suggest that the writer-to-be escaped from a difficult childhood by immersing himself in the imagined world. In one striking spread the colors of the imagined world slightly bleed into young Hans’ arrival in Copenhagen. In another, storybook characters and even an elderly Andersen appear in a crowd scene of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Early on, readers see the shadow of Andersen’s wings, and, in a surprise conclusion, he shows he can still make his audience fly.

“A very special fairy story,” indeed. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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