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A stunner—radiant even.

The story of how E.B. White came to write two of his three classic children’s books.

Young Elwyn White, sick in bed, befriended a mouse. Later, “on a train one night in a dream,” a “dapper” mouse dressed in a hat and carrying a cane appeared to Andy (the author’s nickname since his college days at Cornell). When Andy moved to Maine, “he filled his barn with stoic sheep, anxious hens, and gossiping geese. But he still had a mouse on his mind.” The mouse became Stuart Little. In an old boathouse, “with a mouse for company,” Andy created a story about a pig and a spider, denizens of the “high-lofted barn” he had always dreamed of. And Charlotte’s Web came to be. Herkert’s elegant prose and Castillo’s stunning brown ink–and-watercolor illustrations team up for a magnificent model of what a picture book can be. The double-page spreads are simply gorgeous: Elwyn’s nighttime neighborhood, with yellow-amber house lights under a blue sky and crescent moon; a brown-toned New York City street scene followed by the pastoral beauty of Maine; and a breathtakingly beautiful barn scene, reminiscent of Garth Williams’ original Charlotte’s Web but this one in glowing colors. Though White’s third classic, The Trumpet of the Swan, is only mentioned in the author’s note, this is some book.

A stunner—radiant even. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-245-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter.

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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