Carefully chosen details paint a portrait of a remarkable young person.

A profile of the early life of a 19th-century musical prodigy.

As a child, Amy Cheney Beach (1867-1944) hummed in perfect pitch and sang an entire anthem at age 2 to amazed family and friends. Ironically, her music-teacher mother, who had “strong religious beliefs” and didn’t want her child drawing attention to herself, was one of her biggest obstacles to progress. DeLems presents the ongoing battle and the child’s perseverance with an abundance of strong verbs: Aunt Franc, who ultimately intervened, “plopped” the 4-year-old on the piano bench. “Mama objected. Aunt Franc persisted. And Amy pounced into action.” Three original waltzes flowed out. Jay’s New Hampshire landscapes channel Grant Wood’s painting The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, with its saltbox homes and curving pathways. The crackle varnish on her oil compositions lends an aged appearance appropriate to the subject. Jay creates energy and interest by displaying classical composers dancing through the sheet music as Amy practices and Mother Goose characters skipping through dynamic musical staves as the girl composes her own melodies for the nursery rhymes. Readers see multiple images of her beautifully poised hands as she plays at her Boston Music Hall debut, indicating the fullness of her sound. The narrative concludes with that performance at age 16, but extensive backmatter covers the rest of her life. Amy was White, as are most of the characters depicted. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Carefully chosen details paint a portrait of a remarkable young person. (author’s note, photographs, timeline, glossary, bibliography, websites, places to visit, picture credits) (Picture-book biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-66268-008-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023


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


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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