LITTLE BOY WITH A BIG HORN

Freshly illustrated with retro art from Yaccarino, this 1950 tale still stands up despite its references to a once-popular song that modern children probably won’t recognize. Little Ollie diligently practices his tuba, but all he can play is “Asleep in the Deep.” Though dogs and other animals gather round to listen attentively, his Mom and the neighbors soon rise up in protest and drive him from home, from the yard and even from a farmer’s field. Fetching up at last on the seashore, he rows out into a fog—to discover that an important bell buoy has disappeared, and only he and his instrument can guide an incoming passenger liner safely into harbor. The grateful town sends him to a (distant) music school. Since Ollie’s short pants and other details in the pictures’ urban and rural settings could pass for contemporary with the text, the blend of old and new is seamless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-375-83903-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

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

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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MIGHTY CASEY

As a writer of verse, Preller, author of Six Innings (2008), makes an excellent prose novelist. His rhymed tale of a Little League nonhitter who lights a fire in his team of total losers shows plenty of heart, if shaky scansion. Winless for the season and trailing five-zip in the first inning, it looks like just another long day for the Delmar Dogs—“Omar scraped a knee; / grape juice spilled on Lapinski’s shoe; / Ronald the runt had to pee, / and figured left field would do”—but with urging from no-hit, no-field Casey (a lefty, as it happens), the team puts on a rally, and it’s Casey’s hit with the bases loaded that brings victory within grasp. Cordell’s simply drawn cartoons of geeky, distracted children sporting oversized batting helmets suit this lightweight remake of a certain famous baseball ballad, and if the author doesn’t quite recapture the original’s tone or suspense (or ending), he may get young readers and their parents who take the game a little too seriously to lighten up a touch. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36764-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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