Interesting enough but not particularly impactful.

I AM MOZART, TOO

THE LOST GENIUS OF MARIA ANNA MOZART

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. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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