Art history with a little smile.

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IF DA VINCI PAINTED A DINOSAUR

Following up If Picasso Painted a Snowman (2017), introductions to 19 more painters and their best-known styles.

In line with the previous gallery, the Newbolds dispatch a shiny-eyed hamster docent to squire young viewers past a set of full-page or larger scenes that imitate famous, or at least representative, paintings—with prehistoric elements, mostly dinosaurs, in each. The virtual museum tour begins with a Vitruvian Microraptor à la Leonardo and ends with a finely rendered Dino Lisa (a gowned maiasaura, according to the key at the end, but looking more than a little like Jar Jar Binks). In between he dishes up Dégas-style ballet dancers, plesiosaurs surfing a version of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, a can of Andy Warhol’s Dino Noodle Soup, Mark Rothko color fields declared to represent layers of prehistoric rocks, and more. Other artists include Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Qi Baishi, Loïs Mailou Jones, Harrison Begay, and Marguerite Zorach. The accompanying captions incline toward wordplay: “Cassius Coolidge crates a Cretaceous card game”; “BOOM! CRASH! CRUNK! Here comes a dinosaur by Edvard Munch!” Like the art, some dinos are actual ones, others fanciful. Leonardo is an outlier in this 18th- to 20th-century company (Begay alone lived into the 21st), but the lineup is at least as varied in school or style as the previous one and more diverse of sex, race, and national background than both its predecessor and many others of its ilk. Would-be Leonardos will find both an invitingly blank page to fill at the end and elementary prompts from the versatile illustrator.

Art history with a little smile. (thumbnail biographies) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-667-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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