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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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)

STINK AND THE FREAKY FROG FREAKOUT

From the Stink series , Vol. 8

Stink Moody, younger brother of Judy, hops into the spotlight with a common problem—and  one that’s a bit more unusual.

Stink would like to advance in his swimming lessons, but he’s afraid to put his face underwater and seems doomed to remain a Polliwog forever. Fortunately, he’s distracted from that issue by the sudden appearance around town—in some surprising places—of a whole lot of real frogs, a few of which are deformed. These frogs give McDonald the opportunity to offer a little information, through the voice of a nature-center guide, on how adverse environmental conditions can influence frog development. Stink memorizes a variety of frog sounds, enabling him to participate in a frog count at a local pond. Somehow, he becomes convinced that he’s turning into a frog himself, but that might just make it possible for him to swim underwater. Brief, cheery, oversized text and lot of cartoonish black-and-white illustrations (only some of which were available for review) make this a good choice for newly independent readers. A minor issue is that the text informs readers that it is early spring; even in Virginia, that’s a little early for Stink to be taking swimming lessons in an outdoor pool, as indicated in the illustrations.

Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6140-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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