Books by Jonah Winter

Released: Feb. 25, 2020

"A stellar introduction to an important and ongoing social issue. (author's note, photographs, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)"
Winter focuses on Mother Jones' Children's Crusade to introduce young readers to the history of protests against child labor. Read full book review >
THURGOOD by Jonah Winter
Released: Sept. 3, 2019

"A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author's note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)"
The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him. Read full book review >
Released: May 7, 2019

"Aimed at adults rather than children. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A colorful fable about facts and fake news. Read full book review >
ELVIS IS KING! by Jonah Winter
Released: Jan. 8, 2019

"Readers will want to pore over this thoroughly engaging volume. (Picture book/biography. 5-10)"
From poor, blond boy to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley lived the classic rags-to-riches storybook life. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 8, 2017

"A beautiful example of what a picture book can be. (glossary) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)"
How did a book-loving girl grow up to be a Supreme Court justice? Read full book review >
MICKEY MANTLE by Jonah Winter
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

"A loving perspective on a beloved Yankee hero. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)"
Mickey Mantle was a gifted, talented white baseball player who was admired and truly loved by his fans. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

"An astonishing way to lay the groundwork for such works for older readers as Steve Sheinkin's Bomb (2012), this is a beautifully told introduction to a difficult subject. (Informational picture book. 5-9)"
A picture book takes on the creation of the atomic bomb. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 25, 2016

"The strength of this telling is the way it encourages readers to empathize with Madison's plight, making it a solid entry in that class of picture books tackling tough topics. (Picture book. 5-9)"
The life of James Madison Hemings, believed by most scholars to be one of several children Thomas Jefferson had with enslaved Sally Hemings, is imagined in this picture book of historical fiction. Read full book review >
Released: March 8, 2016

"A charming, endearing introduction to a baseball icon. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
Casey Stengel was a baseball phenomenon and a genuine eccentric. Read full book review >
HILLARY by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Raúl Colón
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"This book's audience will select itself; red staters will avoid it, but Clinton's fans will love it. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)"
She is a powerful force in current American politics and immediately identifiable by her first name. Read full book review >
Released: July 14, 2015

"A much-needed picture book that will enlighten a new generation about battles won and a timely call to uphold these victories in the present. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)"
In a book commemorating the Voting Rights Act of 1965, readers are introduced to 100-year-old black Alabaman Lillian, who recalls her long-delayed journey to exercise her American right to vote 50 years ago. Read full book review >
Released: June 16, 2015

"Morton's seminal role in jazz deserves both celebration and elucidation; this disjointed treatment mainly accomplishes the former. (author's note, recommended listening, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)"
Winter offers a speculative look at the life and musical career of jazz innovator Jelly Roll Morton. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 6, 2015

"Wonderful for future constitutional scholars and other curious young readers. (Nonfiction. 8-13)"
Fourteen of the men who somehow separated from one country and cobbled together a new one despite their differences are presented in a lively celebration of politics and personalities. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"Hero worship abounds, but even within this context, the book scores a home run. (author's note, stats, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
The great Joe DiMaggio still holds fascination for modern fans. Read full book review >
JFK by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by A.G. Ford
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"Overwrought and flawed history accompanied by unappealing illustrations. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)"
An homage to the 35th president of the United States, marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 22, 2013

"Say hey! An all-star gem to share with grandparents, parents, children, baseball fans and anyone else. (author's note, career highlights, glossary of baseball terms, online resources) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)"
The greatest baseball player of all time?! Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2012

"An energetic and affectionate introduction to an artist who was always somewhat larger than life. (biographical note) (Picture book. 5-10)"
A terrific opening—a serene, classical landscape interrupted by Pablo Picasso's exuberant burst through the canvas of this bucolic scene—leads into a simplified look at Picasso's artistic development from adolescent prodigy through his 20s. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 3, 2012

"In any consideration of noteworthy lives, Baker stands tall and sparkles as a determined, brave and singular woman of color. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)"
The African-American singer and dancer was idolized in France because of her extraordinary talent as a stage performer and scorned in the United States because of her color. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 15, 2011

"Young researchers eager to know more about outlaw Belle Starr and adventurer and philanthropist Nellie Cashman might start here, but they will have to move on to more reliable sources. (timeline, map) (Collective biography. 9-12)"
A good idea by a fine author and illustrator goes somewhat awry in this middle-grade collective biography of 15 women of the Old West. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 9, 2010

A stinky story never seemed so sweet. Winter tackles the true-life tale of the 1987 Garbage Barge fiasco in this entirely amusing mix of fact and fiction. When the city of Islip on Long Island ends up with too much garbage, some businessmen (merged into a single character here named Gino Stroffolino) decide the best solution is to ship it to a distant Southern contact. Trouble arises when the barge and stalwart Cap'm Duffy St. Pierre find themselves turned away at every port. From North Carolina to Mexico, from New Orleans to Belize, nobody wants the garbage—all 3,168 tons of it. The author has fun with this story, and his jovial tall-tale tone is well complemented by the eye-popping clay models provided by Red Nose Studio. The garbage in this book doesn't just stink—it oozes and melts in the hot summer sun. A fantastic combination of text and image, this is sure to give the barge and story the infamy they deserve for a generation far too young to recall either the actual incident or the bad old days before we all recycled. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Atop Addy's powerful oil-and-collage portraits heightened with passionate swirls of brushwork, Winter pays fervent tribute to 14 nonviolent crusaders. Beginning with the Big Three—Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.—but then going on to the lesser-known likes of Pashtun leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan, El Salvador's Oscar Romero and Afghani activist Meena Keshwar Kamal, he briefly describes the condition, cause or organization with which each designated hero is most closely associated and highlights some of their acts. He tends to avoid their (often violent) deaths and on occasion delivers debatable generalizations—until Jesus, for example, "everyone thought you were supposed to hate and fight your enemies"—but young readers in need of role models will be hard put to find more courageous, selfless examples than this roster offers. A good complement to Anne Sibley O'Brien and Perry Edmond O'Brien's After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance (2009). (Collective biography. 9-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2009

Author and illustrator set the opening scene as impeccably as their subjects: Life in Victorian England is grim. Even the Queen frowns as her coach drives through the dreary rain. But there is one place where life is brighter. A quick page turn reveals the light, topsy-turvy world of the opera stage. Winter explains that the opera is where "grown-ups acted silly, and everything got very, very, very confused." And oh boy, did it ever. One day Gilbert and Sullivan, the famed lyricist/composer duo, get into an argument. Sullivan accuses Gilbert of writing the same opera over and over. With grumps and grumbles and scowls on their faces, they refuse to work with each other anymore. However, out of the argument comes the inspiration for The Mikado. Lessons of friendship and forgiveness slip in, and Egielski's saturated, theatrical tableaux add warmth and weight, but the intended audience is as perplexing as, well, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Budding maestros will enjoy this dramatic tale, but youngsters unable to place the context may not relate much to these two mustached men. (author's note, website) (Informational picture book. 6-12)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 24, 2009

This book promises to be spectacular with its cover—a 3-D lenticular rendering of the great left-hander, from windup to follow-through—and largely delivers. Carrilho uses graphite on paper, with lavish use of burnished gold accents, Dodger blue and a calligraphic red line, to craft breathtakingly dramatic and dynamic pictures. Winter adopts the voice of an old-time Dodgers fan, complete with dropped gs and a liberal helping of ain'ts, to tell Koufax's story: how he was wild at the start, how he had six magnificent years, how he kept to himself, would not play on a Jewish holy day and retired at the peak of his powers before he lost use of his arm entirely. The cadences of the narration are particularly effective in showing the cost of greatness in physical pain and effort. Box-score-type inserts provide relevant stats and anecdotes, and the whole manages to be vibrant without being cluttered. Great baseball stuff, and a visual treat for young fans and their parents and grandparents. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 10, 2009

Gertrude is Gertrude and a rose is a rose and Jonah and Calef are writer and artist. If Gertrude were alive then Gertrude would love this. Children, too? They probably will because the colors are colors and rich in their colors and surprising, too, whoever saw a blue man drinking tea? And artists and writers that children have heard of like Picasso and Matisse and Hemingway come to have tea with Gertrude and Alice whose job is to keep Gertrude happy. And the words are dancing and singing and having tea and being the words they want to be and so are the pictures and there is a cow. "Thank you for this cow" the story ends but it is really just beginning because readers will want to go back to the words and the colors and the tea and Alice and Gertrude and having bright, sparkling fun with words and colors and tea. (Picture book. 4-10)Read full book review >
BARACK by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by A.G. Ford
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Winter brings all the passion he can muster to this picture-book biography of the Democratic presidential candidate, to whom he dedicates the book. Questions of identity form the theme of the brief account, as young Obama's family forms, fractures, re-forms in Indonesia, only to dissolve again. Who am I? and Where do I belong? become the touchstone questions as the text confronts his ethnic identity—"Barack's mother was Caucasian. His father was African. So what did that make Barack?"—and draws the conclusion that "no matter where he was, the world was his home." Both text and illustrations take advantage of loaded images: One double-page spread places a grown Obama, head bowed, before the Washington Mall's Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial (impossibly foreshortened, so its top is level with Obama's head) in the background; one passage describes a rally in historically freighted Birmingham. There's no effort at nonpartisanship, making Obama something of a Messiah figure come to save America at its darkest moment—but it sure is heartfelt. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)Read full book review >
STEEL TOWN by Jonah Winter
Released: May 20, 2008

Evocative illustrations pulse with energy and poetic prose describes the nation's industrial past in loving detail. Although it may resemble other cities, "Steel Town" will be instantly recognized as Pittsburgh, Pa., though this by no means limits its appeal. From the mills belching smoke to the Hot Metal Bridge across which the molten iron travels, from the ornate churches to the humble homes of the workers, Winter captures the essence of the city. Recalling the WPA muralists, Widener's stylized acrylics emphasize hulking machinery, bleak landscapes and gloomy darkness while capturing the look of Depression-era fashions and décor. Touches of light—the reflected gleam of the furnace, the flowing gold of the hot metal—appear in almost every illustration, providing a welcome contrast. This amalgam of history, industry and imagination proudly stands as both a beautiful and intriguing glimpse into a long-gone past and a paean to the hard work required to create the "big beams used to make buildings...big sheets used to make cars..." (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
MUHAMMAD ALI by Jonah Winter
Released: Jan. 8, 2008

Biblical syntax and cadences lift The Greatest from sports legend to prophet in this remarkable homage. "In the beginning was Jack Johnson . . . And some many years later, in a different age, God said, ‘Let there be Joe Louis' . . . And the heavens opened up, and there appeared a great man . . . And he was called Cassius Clay." Clay's ascent through the ranks of boxing becomes a matter of predestination, his conversion to the Nation of Islam and his banning from the sport during the Vietnam War precursors to his apotheosis in the "Rumble in the Jungle" with George Foreman. Fortunately, Winter leavens his text with plenty of humor, allowing Ali's personality to peek through. Roca's beautiful poster-like oils are built on strong horizontal and vertical lines, the light shining on Ali emphasizing his status as Chosen One. Playful typography allows highlighted words to pop off the page, visual punches to underscore Ali's determination and personality. A prefatory note gives readers some background and prepares them for the presentation to come. As hagiography goes, it doesn't come any more unabashed than this—or more effective. (Picture book/biography. 4-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Using heightened language that matches his mother's exquisite, hieratic pictures, Jonah Winter limns the life of an extraordinary woman, the 12th-century Hildegard of Bingen. As a small girl, Hildegard knew things and could see things inside her head, visions and glories. Her frightened parents brought her to a monastery where a particular nun taught her to read, to sing and to study. Keeping her visions secret, however, caused her great pain, until she let them pour out of her in a luminous river of music, writing and natural history. The pope blessed her work, and people came to hear her. The design is in perfect harmony with the story, with pages that alternate long and shorter texts, and fonts reflecting her own words or those of the narrator. Hildegard described herself as "a feather on the breath of God," and young readers will find themselves breathless with the power of her story and the long reach of her ideas. (author's note, bibliography) (Biography. 7-12)Read full book review >
DIZZY by Jonah Winter
Kirkus Star
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

The syncopated rhythms of bebop form the backbeat to this introduction to Dizzy Gillespie. Winter sets his stage with a firm delineation of young Gillespie's character: A little boy who was the target of bullies and the victim of an abusive father found an outlet with the trumpet, and turned himself into a clown. The narrative focuses on Gillespie's own emotional and artistic journey, celebrating his desire to take risks "until the very thing that had gotten him into trouble / so much— / being a clown, breaking all the rules— / had become the thing that made him great, / . . . . " The text breaks into ecstatic scat while the illustrations move from representational art to abstract depictions of the jagged sounds of jazz. Qualls's acrylic-and-collage images employ a muted palette of pinks and blues and beiges, and compositions vary from scenes of daily life to poster-like montages, effectively establishing Gillespie as larger than life. The narrative culminates in a priceless image of Dizzy "shov[ing] the angel Gabriel out of the way / and show[ing] him how to play / Bebop." "OOP BOP SH'BAM!" (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 26, 2006

Those appreciative of Beethoven's work can now commiserate with the difficulties of owning five legless pianos and having to move in and out of 39 apartments all because of rude neighbors who couldn't tell a good note from a toneless bang. From this proven fact, Winter has crafted an entertaining tale that is less biography than fascinating sidebar. Children with no knowledge of Beethoven will laugh at the increasingly elaborate and far-fetched schemes to move his pianos, while perhaps gaining a rudimentary knowledge of physics. There's also a tongue-in-cheek observance of the need to separate fact from fiction while examining the historical record. Do those water stains really "reveal that he then dumped another bowl of water on his head?" Blitt's watercolors deftly capture Beethoven-era Vienna and his increasing frenzy brought on by deafness. Through it all, Beethoven looms larger than life, as well he should. A previously missing manuscript provides elegant endpapers. A handsome and engaging tale. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2005

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente dreamed of playing baseball. Too poor for regulation equipment, he hit soup cans with a tree branch. In spite of his obvious talent, throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, newspaper writers questioned his ability and used Latino stereotypes to denigrate him. The sheer brilliance of his play in 1971 and 1972 finally awakened the media to his greatness. Sadly, before he could bask in the adulation, he was killed in a plane crash while flying to aid victims of an earthquake. Winter employs straightforward, powerful language to capture the essence of the man. Each two lines of text are separated by a blank line, giving the appearance and cadence of poetry. Colón enhances the text with a variety of techniques, including mixing black and white and color pages and repeating images from different perspectives. A well-constructed introduction to a compassionate, dignified, multi-talented sports hero. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)Read full book review >
¡BÉISBOL! by Jonah Winter
Released: May 15, 2001

Before 1947, Latino baseball players, like their African-American counterparts, found that acceptance into the Major Leagues was based on the tint of their skin rather than the talent they possessed. Many of these players were known and admired, and were able to display their impressive talents in exhibition games against star white players, but were not allowed to play on a Major League team. Winter (Fair Ball!, 1999, etc.) profiles 14 Latino ballplayers, 7 of whom never had their chance at the Majors. The author has selected an interesting, well-balanced variety of players and offers the information in an eye-catching, highly readable format. Each player is presented in a two-page spread that resembles the front and back of a baseball card. The text page is comprised of statistics and a brief biography of each personality and his career. The brightly colored acrylic illustration depicts the player in action and each "card" is placed on a bright blue or purple background and is framed in yellow. These cards introduce the reader to Dolf Luque, a light-skinned Cuban who played for several Major League teams from 1912 to 1932, and to others with darker skin like Tetelo Vargas and Martin Dihigo, who played their entire careers in the Negro Leagues and in leagues throughout Latin America. Perucho Cepeda and Luis Tiant Sr. were also barred, but lived to see their sons forge impressive Major League careers. Major League stars like Minnie Minoso, Roberto Clemente, and Juan Marichal appear here as well. An introduction by Bruce Markusen Rodríguez of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum sets the stage for what follows: an attempt to address a neglected facet of the development of baseball and its relation to American social history via fascinating anecdotes about both well-known and unknown baseball heroes. Sure to appeal to young baseball fans and their parents. (Biography. 8-12)Read full book review >
FRIDA by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Ana Juan
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

A picture-book homage to the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose indomitable spirit has become a revered icon for struggling women artists. The truncated text outlines her life in a simplistic style, relating her childhood illness and the almost-fatal school bus accident that left her in constant physical pain. It was her painting that saved her, becoming her imaginary friend. Instead of crying, she painted pictures of herself crying. The account ends with a description of her paintings as "exvotos": "magical scenes with words at the bottom, scenes of accidents with angels coming to the rescue. They are prayers for people who are sick." Neither her marriage to Diego Rivera nor her death is included. Like Kahlo's art, the illustrations are strikingly stylized. Done in acrylics and wax, they convey a surrealistic sensibility, using six traditional Mexican characters as a motif (e.g., skeleton, devil, jaguar) and portraying them as Kahlo's companions. The artwork lends an air of theatricality (her infamous eyebrows are depicted as the wings of a black bird) with the text scripting that effect: "She paints what she sees in her head—on top of what she sees with her eyes." The enticing cover depicts Kahlo as a child riding on a red bird while she is painting red birds in the sky. Explanatory notes from both author and illustrator provide context and import, citing biographical details and an artistic style that is a tribute to her. Her popularity has increased significantly in recent time—but who is the audience for this book? Certainly, the picture-book format can serve as an introduction to this exotic artist for young children, and kids may be intrigued by the unusual figures and inherent drama. But it is more likely that older readers may develop an artistic curiosity and appreciation for this woman's provocative work. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1999

In this worthy packet of information about famous players from the Negro Leagues, Winter's narrative is marred only by a comic-book tone and exclamation points that detract from otherwise spectacular statistics and stories. Every player gets a page of text designed to resemble a baseball card, faced with a full-page portrait; some of these are close-up studies, others are fluid action shots. The illustrations have the deep contrasts and the sharp overexposed edges of antique, hand-tinted photographs. Winter provides highlights and quotations, and tells whether or not the player is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Readers will learn that Josh Gibson was the only player to hit a home run out of Yankee Stadium; that Bingo DeMoss always played second base with a toothpick in his mouth; and that Martin Dihigo is the only player to be elected to baseball halls of fame in four countries (the US, Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela). He closes the text with his ultimate all-star teams for the American and National Leagues. (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Read full book review >
DIEGO by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter, translated by Amy Prince, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Released: Aug. 1, 1991

A bilingual life of the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, weighted toward his early life (he was a poor scholar whose sympathetic parents provided plenty of artistic materials and sent him to art school quite young) and his pride in his heritage. Winter's small, bordered paintings, in rich, intense colors, nicely evoke folk motifs and other themes in Rivera's work, including his concern for ``poor people'' and their ``war for equality.'' An excellent beginning biography. (Biography/Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >