OBAMA

ONLY IN AMERICA

This lyrical tribute to the 44th U.S. President describes Barack Obama’s diverse childhood experiences and his various mentors and concludes with his successful presidential election. Struggling for self-acceptance, Obama’s search for racial identity led him to his father’s Kenyan homeland before establishing his family and expanding his political ambitions. Obama’s noteworthy quotations are highlighted on each double-page spread, adding a powerful personal element to this rhythmic narrative and revealing a talented orator and inspirational leader. Though his recreational drug use is briefly described, Obama is depicted more as an iconic saint uniting the masses than a multifaceted, flawed human being. “He mirrored the best of all of us, and the good in all of us. / More than a poet, he was a candle in the darkness.” Barrett’s oil paintings successfully create depth by varying dominant features against muted, shaded backdrops. Expressive faces convey a dramatic tension. Weatherford’s commemorative “American Baptism” provides a powerful finale to this undeniably passionate offering. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5641-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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SAINT VALENTINE

The most interesting feature of this retelling of a story about a saint martyred in A.D. 270 is the art, a meticulous re- creation of the medium of its subject's period. Using thousands of tiny, rectangular pieces resembling tiles, Sabuda replicates the effect of Roman mosaics. His simple designs and harmonious, gently muted colors are pleasing, and he achieves surprising subtleties of expression, considering the intractability of the medium. Actually, the illustrations work even better from a slight distance (as with a group), so that the demarcations between the tiny pieces are less predominant. The technique, which tends to congeal the action, makes relatively undramatic illustrations; still, it's a fascinating experiment that brings the ancient world to life by paying tribute to its art rather than by picturing it in a modern style. The straightforward narrative centers on Valentine as a physician whose ointment restores the sight of a jailer's blind daughter, long the saint's friend. It's implied that the long-awaited cure takes place at the moment of his offstage death; the story ends with the joy of the child's renewed vision. An unusual and attractive rendition. Historical note. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-689-31762-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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