This introduction to an American icon feels just right.



From her girlhood days to her legacy as a writer for the ages, Zora Neale Hurston is introduced to young readers.

“In a town called Eatonville—where the magnolias smelled even prettier than they looked…lived a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitoes to skin.” Zora, clad in overalls and running through fields, loves being sent to Joe Clarke’s store, where she turns every quick errand into a chance to listen to the stories being told on the store’s porch. When she tells her own tales, her father and her grandmother punish her for “tellin’ lies,” but her mother values her stories and encourages her to “jump at [the] sun.” She wants more for her children than working the land. Sadly, her mother dies, but Zora remembers her encouragement throughout her life, which she spends in and out of different schools in different cities before finding her place in New York City as a writer and folklorist, a career that takes her back to her all-Black hometown to record those front-porch stories. Zora is depicted as the fun-loving, strong-willed person she most certainly was, and the text uses dialect as playfully as Zora did to transport readers into her world. Whimsical illustrations show Zora’s many worlds—country and city, school and social life—with energy and joy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This introduction to an American icon feels just right. (author’s note, additional reading, sources) (Picture book/biography. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1913-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.


Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


            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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet