An essential guide to the legacy of a well- and deservedly loved artist.



An illuminating, lavishly illustrated tribute to the works and talents of an iconic writer and illustrator, revised and updated in the wake of his death in March 2020.

Elleman adds books and illustrations published after her 1999 critical work, Tomie dePaola: His Art and His Stories, and reworks some of the original edition’s topical chapters, further buffing her already-lapidary analyses of how and why dePaola’s art works so well with the plethora of texts he illustrated and/or wrote over his long career. Playing to her strengths as an unexcelled observer and describer of picture-book art, she captures both visual and emotional ebbs and flows in dozens of works while raising critical points, such as complaints that too many of his pictures look alike, only so she can demolish them with barrages of counterexamples and well-chosen images of pages, page turns, and full spreads. Though dePaola is perhaps best known for drawing on his own background for authentic evocations of Italian and Italian American culture, Elleman commends his portrayals of diverse racial and ethnic characters in such works as his volume of Mother Goose rhymes. Sample pages of a picture book from first draft to finished layout present a revealing case study in his process, and an extended closing album of his “non-book” paintings offers convincing evidence of both his versatility and a distinctive style that shines through no matter the medium or subject. Specific biographical details are limited, but as Trina Schart Hyman writes in her introductory tribute (present in both this and the 1999 work), “the artist always draws or paints him- or herself, no matter what the subject and no matter what or how the approach.” Even devoted fans will come away knowing and liking dePaola more.

An essential guide to the legacy of a well- and deservedly loved artist. (endnotes, lists of publications and of awards, notes on art media, index) (Nonfiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1226-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.


The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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