No way around it, this book is supa-dupa fly, with lush illustrations anchored in signature hip-hop iconography for the...

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THE ROOTS OF RAP

16 BARS ON THE 4 PILLARS OF HIP-HOP

Morrison’s illustrations set the stage for Weatherford’s rhythmic history in verse, breaking from hip-hop’s early influences to today’s global hip-hop takeover.

This celebration begins, appropriately, with the ancestors. An homage to Afro-descendent “folktales, street rhymes, and spirituals,” along with images of Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar, is juxtaposed with a backpack-toting black male with a crisp fade and T-shirt emblazoned with the signature words of Notorious B.I.G.: “It was all a dream.” This slogan recalling the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. highlights how the art form has served a dual purpose for hip-hop heads to get down at the party as well as to unify on the streets. Weatherford demonstrates how James Brown’s funk matched with Jamaica’s dub was present in DJ Kool Herc’s Bronx block parties, at which hip-hop’s birth is formally credited. But Weatherford and Morrison don’t stop at the music. Graffiti artists on the subway lines of NYC, B-boys and B-girls on the cardboard dance floors, and the unforgettable hip-hop fashion are featured prominently, albeit with a heavy regionalist emphasis on its East Coast–reppin’ legends. Bronx-born superproducer Swizz Beatz provides the foreword, honoring the role models that paved the way to his flourishing artistic career. (There are relatively few artists from outside New York and New Jersey featured, though some come through in thumbnail biographies of both male and female artists in the backmatter.) A glossary of classic hip-hop terminology is included along with an author’s note and an illustrator’s note.

No way around it, this book is supa-dupa fly, with lush illustrations anchored in signature hip-hop iconography for the future of the global hip-hop nation. (Picture book. 4-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0411-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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