BEAUTIFUL USEFUL THINGS

WHAT WILLIAM MORRIS MADE

A harmonious picture book whose poetic text and delicate illustrations befit its subject.

The story of Victorian artist and creator William Morris.

As Kephart explains, the “writer, scholar, artist, activist, bookman” dedicated his life to honoring and creating beautiful things. Living in an era when the advent of mass manufacturing was beginning to severely damage the environment, Morris sought to preserve the art of making hand-crafted objects. Drawing inspiration from nature, travel, and the past, he carved out a place in history, and his influence persists today. Kephart’s text is leisurely, encouraging readers to fully take in every stanza and lovely illustration. Rich vocabulary, lyricism, and careful word choices enhance and deepen meaning. Stacey’s incredible soft-edged illustrations are reminiscent of Morris’ style: full of movement, imagination, and detail. One double-page spread uses a bird’s-eye perspective, drawing the eye downward past birds perched in a tree and hovering insects to young Morris below. Another shows a story springing to life from the pages of an open book. The nature elements that appear as motifs throughout the artwork, coupled with detailed close-ups of the processes of whittling, sewing, and bookbinding, reveal just how much Morris’ art was connected to his appreciation of the beauty of the natural world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A harmonious picture book whose poetic text and delicate illustrations befit its subject. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-951836-33-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

BASKETBALL DREAMS

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

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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