An out-of-the-ordinary biography.

ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY ADDIE

THE TRUE STORY OF ADELAIDE HERRMANN, QUEEN OF MAGIC

Artwork and layout reminiscent of 19th-century posters and paper dolls tell the true tale of magician Adelaide Herrmann, once known as the Queen of Magic.

“Addie never wanted to be ordinary,” states the first double-page spread, in which a little redheaded white girl in a bright orange dress and white petticoat flaunts her hoop and stick against a background of somber, sepia-toned family members. A mustachioed man, outlined so as to look like a cutout from a piece of cardboard, is clicking his cumbersome camera at the group. The next spread shows dreamy, flame-haired Addie surrounded by circus characters, and decorative text on a marching-band-member’s drum says, “Addie wanted to astonish, shock, and dazzle.” As the story progresses, Addie moves from being a prima ballerina to boldly riding a “boneshaker” (bicycle) to marrying her dream man: famous magician Alexander Herrmann. The text asserts that “Alexander was no ordinary husband. He set fire to Addie. He chopped off her head….The two of them got along splendidly.” The art makes the piece much more than simply a humorous biography of a spunky woman artist; readers get a taste of elite and artistic lives during Addie’s lifetime. Addie’s willingness to perform the feared-and-revered bullet-catching trick to retain popularity after Alex’s death is a perfect way to end the entertaining, true story.

An out-of-the-ordinary biography. (biographical research notes) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6841-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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