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The inspiring story of a man who believes in the power of books and the importance of community.

The story of José Alberto Gutiérrez, a garbage collector who built a library for his neighborhood in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, out of books he collected on his route through the wealthier neighborhoods of the city.

Proving the old saying that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, Gutiérrez searched “the household trash for hidden treasure…books!” Caught up in the first book he found long ago—Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy—and read over and over again and realizing the strength to be found in words, he eventually created a library out of his findings. In parallel, the book tells the story of a fictional boy, also named José, who counts the days until it is Saturday, when he and the other children in the neighborhood can enter Paradise—Gutiérrez’s library. Illustrator Escobar beautifully captures the distinctive architecture of a working-class neighborhood in Bogotá as well as its multiethnic and varied inhabitants. Readers will be transported through the artwork into the settings of some of the books mentioned, from the ballrooms of faraway Russia through “the magical village” of Macondo, with its yellow butterflies, and on to Treasure Island and the Little Prince’s planet. In the aftermatter, readers learn that today Gutiérrez also directs a foundation he created that “provides reading materials to schools, organizations, and libraries across Colombia.”

The inspiring story of a man who believes in the power of books and the importance of community. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984892-63-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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

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

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