A bright homage to Blair’s bold work, though shown through rose-colored glasses.

POCKET FULL OF COLORS

THE MAGICAL WORLD OF MARY BLAIR, DISNEY ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE

Artist Mary Blair uses intense colors in world-famous creations.

When her family moves away from her childhood house, which is lemon yellow, Blair “tuck[s] her friend lemon in her pocket,” memorizing that color. Growing up, she collects color after color in her mind: russet, azure, viridian, cerulean, celadon. As one of the first women to work at Walt Disney Studios, she contributes to Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan but is stymied by male bosses, who declare her work (such as magenta flying horses) “too vivid, too wild.” She leaves to do advertising, book illustration, and stage sets, but Disney himself invites her back to work on a new ride called “It’s a Small World.” Blair, white and blonde, “had never been to places like China or Morocco or Kathmandu…but her colors had.” That assertion reads as an excuse for something Guglielmo and Tourville never mention: real-world criticism of Small World for reductive exoticism of race, nationality, and ethnicity. Other instances of color personification, in contrast, are pure fun: colors “run and dance”; they “encourage…[Blair] to leave the men with their black lines and strict rules.” Some of Barrager’s hues clash with their textual descriptions, but her playful swirls are energetic. Subtitle notwithstanding, the text is nonrhyming.

A bright homage to Blair’s bold work, though shown through rose-colored glasses. (authors’ note) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6131-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

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

BASKETBALL DREAMS

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

Did you like this book?

more