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Interesting enough but not particularly impactful.

Discover the lost genius of Maria Anna Mozart.

Ades and Lirius’ picture-book biography tells the story of the older sister of great classical music composer and pianist Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Maria, nicknamed Nannerl, narrates the story, recounting how her musical family life inspired her early longing to make music. During her childhood, her father taught her to play the harpsichord. She explains that “Wolfgang always wanted to do everything I did, so Papa taught him, too.” Both children showed prodigious aptitude and spent years performing across Europe. However, the custom of the time precluded women from public performance, never mind musical composition, so as Nannerl grew older, her father arranged for her to marry, bringing her short-lived music career to an end. Nevertheless, Nannerl’s passion for music never died. The book spends little time developing the relationships between its central characters, especially the complex one between Nannerl and her father, in reality not half so tyrannical a figure as the story makes him out to be. The narrative is rather limited in scope, omitting certain key aspects of Nannerl’s biography. The prose is lyrical in its simplicity but otherwise unremarkable; the gouache and digital illustrations, however, are sublime, painted in delicate shades with whimsical touches and flowing floral scroll motifs. The backmatter explains that some liberties were taken in creating this work of “creative nonfiction” and provides biographical and reference information, including a timeline and glossary. All characters are White.

Interesting enough but not particularly impactful. (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-31476-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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