Never burdened by its message, this exceptional title works on multiple levels; it is both a striking introduction to a...

GRANDFATHER GANDHI

This first-person account presents Mohandas Gandhi through the eyes of his then–12-year-old grandson.

Arriving at Sevagram, the ashram Gandhi lived in as an old man, young Arun and his family greet their famous relative and start participating in the simple lifestyle of morning prayers, chores and pumpkin mush. It is challenging for the boy, who misses electricity and movies and dreads language lessons. The crux of the story hinges on the moment Arun is tripped and injured during a soccer game. He picks up a rock and feels the weight of familial expectations. Running to his grandfather, he learns the surprising fact that Gandhi gets angry too. Grandfather lovingly explains that anger is like electricity: it “can strike, like lightning, and split a living tree in two…. Or it can be channeled, transformed….Then anger can illuminate. It can turn the darkness into light.” Turk’s complex collages, rich in symbolic meaning and bold, expressive imagery, contribute greatly to the emotional worldbuilding. Watercolor, gouache and cut paper set the scenes, while fabric clothes the primary players. Gandhi’s spinning wheel is a repeated motif; tangled yarn surrounding Arun signals frustration. 

Never burdened by its message, this exceptional title works on multiple levels; it is both a striking introduction to a singular icon and a compelling story about the universal experience of a child seeking approval from a revered adult. (authors’ note) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2365-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE

Bewitched by the rhythms of jazz all around her in Depression-era Kansas City, little Melba Doretta Liston longs to make music in this fictional account of a little-known jazz great.

Picking up the trombone at 7, the little girl teaches herself to play with the support of her Grandpa John and Momma Lucille, performing on the radio at 8 and touring as a pro at just 17. Both text and illustrations make it clear that it’s not all easy for Melba; “The Best Service for WHITES ONLY” reads a sign in a hotel window as the narrative describes a bigotry-plagued tour in the South with Billie Holiday. But joy carries the day, and the story ends on a high note, with Melba “dazzling audiences and making headlines” around the world. Russell-Brown’s debut text has an innate musicality, mixing judicious use of onomatopoeia with often sonorous prose. Morrison’s sinuous, exaggerated lines are the perfect match for Melba’s story; she puts her entire body into her playing, the exaggerated arch of her back and thrust of her shoulders mirroring the curves of her instrument. In one thrilling spread, the evening gown–clad instrumentalist stands over the male musicians, her slide crossing the gutter while the back bow disappears off the page to the left. An impressive discography complements a two-page afterword and a thorough bibliography.

Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60060-898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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