An appealing, lively portrait that may nonetheless fail to pique the interest of many in the intended audience.

BRAVE JANE AUSTEN

READER, WRITER, AUTHOR, REBEL

This brief biography of Jane Austen describes her life and notes the hardships and expectations she overcame to become a published author.

Pliscou paints a vivid picture of the world Jane was born into, from the physical environment of home and village to the strictures on women’s accomplishments and experiences. The relatively lengthy text flows smoothly. It details the hardships that Jane and her family faced, from financial difficulties both before and after her father’s death to Jane’s survival of (and long, book-filled recuperation from) a serious illness, and emphasizes that despite these challenges Jane was dedicated to perfecting her craft. Corace’s illustrations, created using gouache, ink, acrylic, and pencil, have a stylized look and a relatively limited, somewhat subdued palette. They effectively evoke the historic period and include a nod to a popular decorative style of the day in an attractive double-page spread of silhouettes that conveys Jane’s determination as she “read, sewed, planned menus…went to parties, helped to take care of her parents, and…kept on writing her funny, thoughtful stories.” As Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng do in Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen (2018), Pliscou introduces a revered author for adults to an audience who has likely never heard of her; as recorded here, Austen’s quiet life doesn’t give children much to latch onto.

An appealing, lively portrait that may nonetheless fail to pique the interest of many in the intended audience. (author’s note, quotations, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-643-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Admiration for a unique talent shines as brightly as her jeweled creations in this biographical homage.

PARROTS, PUGS, AND PIXIE DUST

A BOOK ABOUT FASHION DESIGNER JUDITH LEIBER

Judith Leiber designed over-the-top jeweled evening bags that have become cherished collector’s items.

She and her family survived World War II and the Holocaust as forced laborers in factories, living in shared apartments with other Jewish families and later hiding in a basement. All the while she kept dreaming of the bags she would make someday. She married an American and moved to New York, where she worked for many handbag companies and then started her own, making her signature bags for the rich and famous. They took the form of animals or food and all kinds of imaginative shapes. Each bag was covered in jewels and crystals in a plethora of shining, gleaming, bright colors. Blumenthal blends biographical facts with glowing, almost breathless descriptions of the unusual, beautiful bags and their celebrated owners. Readers may notice that the chronology is off; they learn that Leiber started her own company in 1963 and then, a few pages later, that Leiber designed Mamie Eisenhower’s bag for the 1953 inaugural balls. D’yans’ softly hued, slightly fuzzy illustrations depict many of the bags noted by the author and seem to shine as brightly as the bags themselves. Dark, muddy hues appropriately limn the Holocaust years.

Admiration for a unique talent shines as brightly as her jeweled creations in this biographical homage. (author’s note, photographs, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A fascinating introduction to a once-celebrated, now lesser-known lightkeeper.

KEEPER OF THE LIGHT

JULIET FISH NICHOLS FIGHTS THE SAN FRANCISCO FOG

On Sept. 1, 1902, Juliet Fish Nichols began keeping a journal.

Newly installed as the lighthouse keeper on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, she enumerated her many duties, requiring physical strength, steadfastness, determination, and bravery. Every evening, she had to light the oil lamp and keep it shining all night long. On an April morning in 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake damaged the lighthouse, leaving Juliet heartbroken. A few months later, when the bay was saturated with a dangerous, impenetrable fog, the hand-cranked fog bell machine broke down, and Juliet had to manually strike the bell with a mallet every 15 seconds throughout the night to warn ships away from the rocks. Her journal entries, based on historical documents, appear in light, thin handwriting and illuminate her mostly solitary life, wholly dedicated to her important work and punctuated by times of terror and danger as well as occasional trips to the city across the bay for supplies. The story conveys Juliet’s deep appreciation for the beauty of the sea and the island’s landscape. Sumpter’s carefully composed double-page illustrations show the lighthouse, harbor, and city from a variety of perspectives and add detail and dimension to the narration. They show, for example, that the lighthouse was not a tower but a cottage with an attached bell house on a platform high on a cliff. Juliet presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fascinating introduction to a once-celebrated, now lesser-known lightkeeper. (additional facts, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-951836-37-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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