This book was so close to soaring!

FLYING HIGH

THE STORY OF GYMNASTICS CHAMPION SIMONE BILES

Simone Biles enchanted the nation at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and this book aims to introduce her to young readers.

Readers watch as little Simone and her three siblings are placed in a foster home, then separated, before she and one sister are adopted by their biological grandparents. Simone is always in motion from toddlerhood, “shooting off the vault / like a rocket blast” when she discovers gymnastics. There is a simple beauty in showing how Biles’ rise to Olympic gold medalist was not smooth. Children will be saddened by her failure at making the national team and heartened by her determination to keep pursuing her dream. Meadows emphasizes resilience, demonstrating how Biles met each failure with persistence, getting back up and trying again. Glenn’s clean line-and-color illustrations are reminiscent of animation, at their best in the many vignettes of Biles in motion. One double-page spread, in which 10 separate images trace Biles doing her trademark double layout with a half-twist landing, is electrifying. The text does not equal the illustrations’ effectiveness; scansion is sometimes spotty, and the jaunty rhythms are at odds with the challenges and drive depicted. Its lightness seems particularly inapt when juxtaposed against Biles’ powerful muscularity. Two pages of backmatter include a few more facts and selected sources.

This book was so close to soaring! (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20566-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more