Overall, though, these poems, illustrations and substantial notes combine well to lend a rounded portrait of this American...

THE EMILY SONNETS

A sonnet sequence encapsulates the biography of one of America’s most intriguing poets, Emily Dickinson.

Loosely following Shakespearean and the occasional Petrarchan rhyme schemes, Yolen cleverly adopts personae of important figures in Dickinson’s life—including the voice of the poet herself—to reveal key elements of her biography. Aiming to “tell the truth” of Dickinson’s life, Yolen effectively conveys the importance of family and nature, privacy, imagination and independence in Dickinson’s famously unconventional existence. Averse to traditional schooling and organized religion, the poet reveals: “I learned the spelling of the bee, / The mathematics of the rose / … / I found more in the books of air; / My higher education won / From every bird found flying there.” Yolen also offers a sympathetic portrait of Dickinson’s reclusiveness—“What need for me an open door / When in myself is so much more?”—and idiosyncratic dress: “sometimes a white dress is only that, / It keeps the daily choices few.” Accompanying the sonnets, Kelley’s dark and chunky pastels underscore Dickinson’s interior life. Occasionally, attempts to echo Dickinson’s poetic surprises yield muddled results, as in “Hedges,” where Yolen’s Dickinson depicts her shrubs as: “My soldiers, steady in a row, / Their helmets verdigrised by God, / Wearing epaulettes of crow.”

Overall, though, these poems, illustrations and substantial notes combine well to lend a rounded portrait of this American poet every young reader needs to discover. (Picture book/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56846-215-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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A studied account of the innovative and impulsive fashion legend that’s likely to inspire budding designers of any age.

HOT PINK

THE LIFE AND FASHIONS OF ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

The life story of the trailblazing designer.

Having tackled Leonard Bernstein, Diego Rivera, and more, Rubin now turns to one of modernism’s most colorful fashion designers, Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), inventor of hot pink and a slew of fashion firsts. Known to intimates simply as “Schiap” (pronounced “skap” from “Skap-a-rell-ee,” helpfully elucidated early on), the younger daughter of traditional Italian parents was born in Rome, drawing early inspiration from her librarian father’s rare books. Rubin’s account highlights formative moments in Schiap’s rebellious youth but focuses mainly on the extraordinary accomplishments of her career. Schiap not only used fashion to compensate for internalized physical shortcomings, but extended her talents to help clothe women of all walks of life. Schiap believed that helping women “find their type” was “the secret of being well dressed.” Though some of her more outlandish designs included zany hats, buttons in the shapes of vegetables, and accessories sporting insects, Schiap was also revered for path-breaking casual knitwear alongside wild couture collaborations with Man Ray and Salvador Dalí. Unfortunately, while Rubin’s well-researched and eye-catchingly illustrated portrayal hooks readers with the history behind “shocking” or “hot” pink and includes copious quotations from Schiaparelli herself, its overall effect is surprisingly dry.

A studied account of the innovative and impulsive fashion legend that’s likely to inspire budding designers of any age. (author’s note, Schiaparelli facts, bibliography, notes, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1642-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Though shaky as nonfiction, when read as historical-fiction, this is a worthwhile introduction to a decorated hero of two...

EUGENE BULLARD

WORLD'S FIRST BLACK FIGHTER PILOT

At the beginning of the 20th century, a young African-American runs away to France and becomes heroically involved in both world wars.

Eugene Bullard’s father’s stories about racial freedom in France resonated with the boy, and he left home determined to experience it. He stowed away on a ship to Aberdeen, Scotland, worked the docks and learned to box in Liverpool, England, and eventually made his way to Paris. As World War I approached, Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion, received aviation training and became a pilot in the French Air Service. Between the two world wars, Bullard remained in Paris, working as a boxer, a musician, and nightclub and gym owner, but once World War II began, he joined the Resistance. After being wounded, Bullard returned to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. Eugene Bullard had many fascinating adventures that will engage readers, but the scant sourcing and admittedly fabricated dialogue limit this as informational text. Greenly references a biography that used Bullard’s memoir and interviews, but readers have no way to determine what was supported by that work or by others. There is little explanation about the larger African-American expatriate community in Paris.

Though shaky as nonfiction, when read as historical-fiction, this is a worthwhile introduction to a decorated hero of two world wars who overcame obstacles in difficult times. (photographs, French pronunciation guide, index) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58838-280-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: NewSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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