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The Master Storyteller returns to storytime at last.

A tribute to the storied lioness of the New York Public Library.

Raised in Baltimore on her grandmother’s tales, Augusta Braxton Baker (1911-1998) grew up with the deep certainty that stories are powerful. Powerful enough to make Augusta realize her true calling, “guiding children of all ages through the wide and wonderful spaces of her stories.” Powerful enough to bring her to the 135th Street Branch of the NYPL, where she introduced young readers such as James Baldwin and Audre Lorde to the words that would inspire them to write their own. Powerful enough to anchor Augusta’s lifelong advocacy for uplifting representations of Black people, to forge a network of educator activists from Carter G. Woodson to Charlemae Rollins, and to send Augusta around the world to teach and tell her stories. Intricate details will draw novice readers back to the pages, while more experienced readers will find a treasure trove of biographical sources. There’s thoughtfulness here in the craft and pacing of her prose, certainly; reverence, too, in the textured layers of Harrison’s mixed-media and visual storytelling. But more than anything, simple care is evident. Care for a Black librarian who sought out every gap a tale could bridge, who shattered barriers to ensure Black children would see themselves on library shelves, and whose legacy continues to this day exactly as it began—in the thrall of good stories.

The Master Storyteller returns to storytime at last. (author’s note, timeline, sources) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593324202

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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