BEN FRANKLIN

HIS WIT AND WISDOM FROM A-Z

Two words in the subtitle totally encompass the approach of this highly creative alphabet biography—wit and wisdom. Like his subject, Schroeder is inventive; he profiles a major historic figure with amusing alphabetic tidbits that capture the spirit and substance of the man. Who knew that Franklin liked to take daily nude "air baths" (N for Newspaper, Navigation and Nude)? Multiple citations, with definitions, for each letter are boxed and set against a scenic background. The forefront entry for R, for instance, stands for Revolutionary War and is followed by Reading, Resolution and Rod; the illustration that accompanies manages to incorporate all of those elements either literally or metaphorically and add a laugh, to boot. Indeed, the format would be bland without O’Brien’s finely drawn lines that humorously detail the scenes. He comically tucks adages in small banners here and there, such as: “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it” and “Either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” From A for Almanac to Q for Quaker to Z for Zeal and back to A for American, this robust representation IS witty and wise. Using the alphabet as a device for informing and amusing continues to be a favorite with authors and illustrators, and Schroeder and O’Brien have set a new standard. Outstanding. (Alphabet biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1950-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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