Well-intentioned but misses the mark.




From the Women Who Changed Our World series

In an era of renewed attention to feminism comes a biography of the co-founder (along with Dorothy Pitman Hughes) of Ms. magazine.

Author/illustrator Lewis portrays Steinem’s consciousness-raising journey to adulthood using short declarative sentences in the present tense (“This is Gloria. She has big dreams”), striking a decidedly young narrative tone. Pink predominates in the flowery illustrations, beginning with a young Gloria dancing across a pink typewriter’s keys. Later, after having “a big idea,” she stands, arms akimbo, on the same machine, with the unfortunate result that the scale makes her look like a Barbie. Such infantilization of Steinem and her cause permeates the book, from the persistent use of her first name to text that oversimplifies social concepts. Hearing about the “women’s liberation movement[,] Gloria is curious!” Lack of context will puzzle uninformed children. Underutilized as a journalist, “Gloria feels like a typewriter without a ribbon.” What’s a typewriter ribbon? What does “Ms.” mean, and why was it chosen as a magazine title? Steinem also comes across as a white woman rushing to the rescue, both in India and with her “fearless friend Dorothy,” a black woman, posing next to her with raised fist. The only clue to the sophistication of the subject is backmatter with unsourced biographical detail and “page-by-page notes” that are themselves simplistic: “She learned that change comes from the people and in order to learn, you must listen.”

Well-intentioned but misses the mark. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2666-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.


Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Blandly laudatory.


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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