Well-researched and carefully paced, this is an enduring and inspiring book that will help kids to understand the why and...

EDWARD HOPPER PAINTS HIS WORLD

Two masters of illustrated, brief biographies for young people reunite (If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond, 2012) for this accessible introduction to an iconic 20th-century American realist.

Their careful, almost developmental approach quickly transcends the provision of objective biographical facts (though they are all there in abundance) by first presenting Hopper’s childhood pencil case—inscribed “Edward Hopper Would be Artist”: five words that summarize a life story. It is evident that Burleigh and Minor are determined that readers both understand and see “the artist’s process of discovery.” Their decision to avoid reproductions of Hopper’s work throughout reflects the essential understanding that Hopper’s own paintings were never exact representations of a specific place at a specific time. Minor helps readers acquire both the sense and the sensibility of a Hopper work via his own charcoal-and-pencil studies of the paintings under consideration in Burleigh’s thoughtful text. In this wonderfully illuminating way, they both help readers comprehend Hopper from the inside out: from the actual motifs, to the edited and combined studies, to the familiar, finished and admired paintings on the museum walls. Backmatter is particularly well-organized and inclusive.

Well-researched and carefully paced, this is an enduring and inspiring book that will help kids to understand the why and the how of an artist at work. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8752-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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