FLY HIGH!

THE STORY OF BESSIE COLEMAN

Borden (Good Luck, Mrs. K!, 1999, etc.) and Kroeger collaborate for the second time (Paperboy, 1996) in this easy biography of the first African-American to earn a pilot’s license. Bessie Coleman was born in 1892, and despite an impoverished childhood and limited education, she became determined to make her mark on the world by learning to fly. Remarkably, she saved enough money to travel to France, the only place where an African-American woman could study aviation, and she earned an international pilot’s license in 1921. She performed at air shows throughout the US, always urging young African-Americans to “fly high” and “be somebody.” Coleman was planning to open her own flight school when she died in a plane crash at the age of 34. Her story is told in a positive, forthright style that reflects Coleman’s lifelong self-education through reading and additional adult-education classes and her strong will to succeed, with an obvious but not preachy message that attitude plus aptitude equals altitude. Flavin’s bright gouache paintings help bring Bessie and her era to life, with carefully researched costumes, airplanes, and backgrounds adding to the authenticity of the story. Readers who can’t handle longer chapter-format biographies will fly right through this thoughtfully designed book, aided by lots of illustrations, short line length, and plentiful white space surrounding the interesting text. Most libraries will want to make room on the biography shelves for this one, which will be useful during Black History Month and for those inevitable biography book-reports. (author’s note) (Biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82457-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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Come for the mystery, stay for the backmatter.

JULIETA AND THE DIAMOND ENIGMA

This gentle, fast-paced mystery will hook readers with interesting details.

Julieta Leal, 9, is a magnet for disasters. She has a reputation at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where both her parents work, for making trouble. Julieta is just trying to help, and it’s not her fault that sometimes things get broken or she has a hard time following the rules. When Julieta’s dad invites her along on a trip to Paris regarding the loan of some pieces from the Louvre, she jumps at the chance to add another purple pin to her family’s world-travel map. She promises to be helpful and stay out of trouble and desperately wants to shed her reputation of being a liability. This proves difficult when the dazzling Regent Diamond is stolen and Julieta and her dad are implicated in the theft. With her dad’s job in peril and the prized gem missing, Julieta must rely on her keen observations and tenacity to clear their names. Detailed descriptions of Paris landmarks and factual information about museum pieces are woven naturally into the fast-moving plot so that readers come away with knowledge of these topics alongside a satisfying story. Several pages of backmatter notes bolster the learning. The endearing Julieta is bilingual, and she and her family are Mexican American.

Come for the mystery, stay for the backmatter. (glossaries) (Mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64379-046-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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