NORMAN ROCKWELL

STORYTELLER WITH A BRUSH

A handsome, well-designed book and a terrific, engaging read, this is an openly affectionate portrait of Rockwell as both the man and the artist. Young Norman left high school at fifteen to study at the National Academy and the Art Students League. He was just eighteen when he became the art director for the Boy Scouts’ Boys’ Life magazine. Shortly thereafter, Rockwell was shocked that The Saturday Evening Post bought the first two paintings he showed them and immediately commissioned three more covers! These two early associations shaped his long, productive, and lucrative career. Gherman (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1996) takes her readers into the studio and skillfully blends biographical details into her survey of Rockwell’s techniques, models, and imagery. Parents and teachers will welcome the opportunity to introduce his inspirational WWII suite of paintings “The Four Freedoms” (based on Roosevelt’s speech) to contemporary children. Once seen, few will forget “The Problem We All Live With” (his 1964 Look Magazine painting of a young Ruby Bridges escorted into her New Orleans elementary school flanked by Federal marshals). Open page design, attractive typeface, and generous white space set off a luscious sampling of well-chosen full color reproductions and fascinating black and while photos. This biography is well timed; Rockwell and his oeuvre are in international resurgence. Critics are finally acknowledging that Rockwell’s “high art’ aesthetic both intersects with and transcends popular culture. The buzz generated by the Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People show now touring the country’s major museums will definitely reach the elementary school set. As such, this appealing biography will certainly meet and exceed the expectations of a burgeoning new audience for the artist’s life and work. (Biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82001-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures.

LADIES OF LIBERTY

THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION

Highlighting women writers, educators, and reformers from the 18th and early 19th centuries, Roberts brings a group of women, many not so well-known, into focus and provides a new perspective on the early history of the United States in this picture-book version of her adult book of the same title (2008).

The women include Lucy Terry Prince, a persuasive speaker who created the first poem (an oral piece not written down for over 100 years after its creation) by an African-American; Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and the founder of Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals, and orphanages; and Rebecca Gratz, a young philanthropist who started many organizations to help the Jewish community in Philadelphia. The author usually uses some quotes from primary-source materials and enlivens her text with descriptive events, such as Meriweather Lewis’ citation of Sacagawea’s “equal fortitude” with the males of the exploration party during a storm, saving many supplies when their boat capsized. The sepia-hued pen-and-ink drawings are inspired by the letters of the era, and the soft watercolor portraits of the women and the paintings that reveal more of their stories are traditional in feeling. In her introduction, the author emphasizes the importance of historical materials, such as letters, organizational records, journals, and books written at the time. Despite this, there is no bibliography or other means of sourcing quoted material.

These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-078005-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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