This welcome addition to the field of female fliers will be informative as well as inspirational for girls.

TO THE STARS!

THE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN TO WALK IN SPACE

This biography of Kathy Sullivan joins the ranks of picture books about women who have taken to the air.

Her name is not familiar to most people, yet her achievements were major. As a child, she dreamed of having a pocketful of airplane tickets so she could see the whole world. Unlike her female friends, she wanted to be an adventurer, like a spy or a diplomat. She ignored the taunts (“Girls don’t like those jobs”), and when she was a teenager, she learned to be a pilot. Attractive watercolor-and-ink illustrations visually use alternating, double-page spreads to show how, throughout her childhood and young adulthood, her determination became the impetus for her adult challenges. This back-and-forth perspective, between childhood and adulthood, is effective for the age group. In 1978, she became one of the first six women selected to join NASA, and she was the first American woman to walk in space, in 1984. Notes, each a full page long, from the author and Sullivan herself encompass her adventurous spirit and encourage girls to “set big goals.” Concluding thumbnail biographies profile 13 other woman astronauts, including Sally Ride, Kalpana Chawla, Mae Jemison, and Ellen Ochoa.

This welcome addition to the field of female fliers will be informative as well as inspirational for girls. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-644-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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