An accessible and engaging portrait of a remarkable historical figure.

FROM A SMALL SEED

THE STORY OF ELIZA HAMILTON

Eliza Hamilton’s life is summarized, along with some fictionalized episodes intended to illuminate her character and accomplishments.

Andros uses an extended metaphor of seeds and trees to frame Eliza’s long and eventful life. This view of human resilience as stemming from strong roots, along with sophisticated vocabulary and the breadth of Eliza’s experiences, may require some explication for young listeners. Repetition of words and ideas and a lyrical flow to the text, however, ensure that listening will be a pleasure even if understanding takes some extra effort. Blackham’s matte, naïve-style illustrations vary in size and placement, including double-page spreads, single-page pictures, and spot illustrations. The subdued palette appears appropriate to the era; details of costume and setting also serve to anchor the story in time. Eliza is first shown as an energetic, smiling, dark-haired, pale-skinned girl with loving parents. Her empathy for those less fortunate is shown in a drably colored (imagined) interaction with an unnamed white orphan boy. Growth from child to young woman follows quickly, summarized on a two-page spread that shows her eight times against the same simple background, a checkerboard floor. Her marriage to Alexander Hamilton, the birth and raising of their children, the loss of her husband, and her subsequent child welfare work are briefly outlined and illustrated in the remaining pages; the last activity introduces the only characters of color depicted.

An accessible and engaging portrait of a remarkable historical figure. (author’s note, artist’s note, bibliography) (Biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-29742-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Blandly laudatory.

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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