Next book


From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A thinner-than-thin profile, wrapped in lavender haze and sweeter than fiction.

The publisher’s long-running biographical series takes on megastar Taylor Swift.

Sánchez Vegara breathlessly starts Swift out as a girl at home who “believed in unicorns and fairy tales” as well as “the power of songs to tell stories and change the world.” The author then traces her subject’s enchanted career from first demo recordings at age 11 to the 2022 announcement of the Eras tour. Though her early devotion to country music made her a loner at school, she was able to shake it off, winning four Grammys by the time she turned 20. Readers may find the text frustratingly vague or confusing; Sánchez Vegara notes that Swift recorded her first album for a record label “after being spotted” at a gig (by whom?). Likewise, in the backmatter, the author states that after “her masters were sold without her permission, Taylor decided to take back ownership of her art”—some parental explanation may be necessary here, too. Sánchez Vegara covers familiar ground; confirmed Swifties will discover little new here, and even young children who don’t recognize Swift will never, ever read this book more than once. Figures in Fallberg’s star-bejeweled, often lilac-tinted scenes are racially diverse; one young listener in the final campfire singalong uses a wheelchair, and another wears an eye patch.

A thinner-than-thin profile, wrapped in lavender haze and sweeter than fiction. (Picture-book biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780711295094

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

Next book


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

Next book


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Close Quickview