Blandly laudatory.

READ REVIEW

I AM WALT DISNEY

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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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Solid, if not revolutionary.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON

A PLAN FOR AMERICA

Albee and Ko take their shot at an early-reader biography about Alexander Hamilton.

Emergent readers (and their caregivers) familiar with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton will be rewarded with what amounts to an illustrated highlights reel of the founding father’s life. Albee opens in medias res by describing Hamilton as “a soldier, a lawyer, and a financial wizard,” before the spare text quickly brings readers to Hamilton’s Caribbean childhood, noting his father’s abandonment, his mother’s death, and his determined rise from poverty. He’s presented as a trusted adviser to George Washington and rival to Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with Ko’s accompanying digital art depicting him with a smiling man on horseback (Washington), while on the facing page, the two other men scowl. A later spread notes major differences between Jefferson and Hamilton, including acknowledgment that Jefferson enslaved people while “Hamilton was against slavery,” but Washington’s slave-owner status isn’t named, nor is the American Revolution’s impact on Indigenous peoples. Personal milestones, such as marriage to Eliza Schuyler, are noted alongside references to his involvement in the war and his work with the nascent American government. While his death occurs on the page, strategies to keep the text within the comprehension of its audience risk undermining other historical content by omitting such terms as “revolution” and the Federalist Papers (though they do appear in backmatter).

Solid, if not revolutionary. (Early reader/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-243291-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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