A tour de force of design, story and illustration.

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MOCHA DICK

THE LEGEND AND THE FURY

This eye-catching picture book presents the history of the legendary sperm whale behind the Herman Melville classic.

The sperm whale Mocha Dick was first sighted in 1810 off the coast of Chile, and over the course of almost 50 years, he waged over 100 battles with whalers. Sailors referred to him as “the White Whale of the Pacific.” Mocha Dick’s legendary status sprang from his behavior as the hunter, rather than the hunted. He attacked whaleboats and whaling ships, and when he was finally killed, he had the rusting heads of 19 harpoons in his body. This engrossing tale—told with an expert succinctness by Heinz—avoids the tendency to romanticize 19th-century whaling and instead tells a plain-speaking story of a whale fighting for its life and its right to live. Enos pairs the crisp words with distinctive illustrations reminiscent of scrimshaw blended with primitive woodcuts, giving the story an old-fashioned (but not nostalgic), nautical feel. In its overall design, the book manages to inflect what often looks like a 19th-century sensational newspaper story with a more modern sensibility of empathy for hunted whales. In doing this, it has achieved that goal of all good picture books—an entity far greater than its parts.

A tour de force of design, story and illustration. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56846-242-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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An absorbing read for young makers and dreamers.

THE FANTASTIC FERRIS WHEEL

THE STORY OF INVENTOR GEORGE FERRIS

Heeding the call to “make big plans” for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, George Ferris designed—and built—the giant observation wheel that now bears his name.

Kraft’s clear narrative sets the stage for the Columbian Exposition. Following on the 19th century’s spectacular achievements in architecture and engineering, a sense of competition prevailed: the fair’s organizers stood in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, erected for France’s 1889 World’s Fair. Ferris’ friends and Chicago's fair organizers doubted his plans for their sheer scale: how could a 26-story-tall wheel with 36 cars, each designed to carry 60 passengers, be safely constructed and operated? Ferris found investors and refined his plans. Finally, in December 1892—just 4 1/2 months before the opening—the committee gave Ferris the nod. The engineering challenges, coupled with the harsh Chicago winter, lend drama to the text; Salerno’s richly detailed compositions extend it. Using traditional mixed media as well as Adobe Photoshop to layer, compose, and add color, the artist’s full-bleed pictures exhibit dizzying perspective and inventive composition, adding plenty of detail, including fairgoers in period dress. A color palette of blue, green, and ochre evokes vintage postcards. Withstanding a tornado in Chicago, Ferris’ wheel served again at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair before its eventual scrapping. Kraft credits Ferris’ enduring feat; a tall gatefold depicts the London Eye.

An absorbing read for young makers and dreamers. (biographical note, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-072-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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