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

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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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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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Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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