It's a pity that the real story behind this actual, extraordinary piece of ornate French décor is withheld, leaving readers...

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THE GOLDFISH IN THE CHANDELIER

The fictionalized story behind the creation of a 19th-century chandelier currently on display in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In the early 1800s, Louis Alexandre enjoys visiting his Uncle Henri on his expansive estate just outside of Paris. On his latest visit, he finds his artist uncle distraught, unable to conceive a new design for a chandelier, which must incorporate the four classical elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Several days of collaborative thinking, drawing, designing and building produce the unusual and intriguing light fixture, which includes a blue sphere with stars, griffins and a crystal bowl filled with swimming goldfish. The lengthy narration features the internal recounting of adventurous tales that serve as inspiration for the characters’ creativity. Intricate, darkly tinted ink-and-watercolor paintings depict the well-to-do gentleman and his nephew, both in ruffled shirts, imagining, consulting and overseeing the creation of a new masterpiece. They provide relief from the long-winded text, which, though not without humor, does readers a disservice in its baroque construction. An author’s note provides some clarification but no true investigation of the actual manufacture of the chandelier.

It's a pity that the real story behind this actual, extraordinary piece of ornate French décor is withheld, leaving readers cheated of a true exploration of art history.    (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60606-094-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Getty Publications

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).

TOBY AND THE ICE GIANTS

A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents.

WALKING HOME TO ROSIE LEE

A Southern novelist looks to the Civil War’s immediate aftermath in this newly free child’s account of a weary search for his mother.

“War’s over. Government say we free. Folks be on the move. Getting the feel for freedom. Not me.” He joins the large number of ex-slaves who, “all hope and hurry on,” have hit the road in search of brighter futures, but young Gabe has a different goal: tracking down his sold-away and only living parent Rosie Lee. Keeping his goal before him like the fixed North Star, he travels for months from Mobile to the “worn-down toes of the Appalachian Mountains,” following vague leads from sympathetic listeners and offices of the Freedman’s Bureau, enduring hardships and disappointment. Applying paint in thickly brushed impasto, Shepherd views Gabe’s world and encounters from a child’s-eye height but gives the barefoot, raggedly clad boy a look of hard-won maturity that points to past sorrows and underscores the depth of his determination. His distinct voice will draw readers into caring about his quest and sharing the tide of joy that accompanies his ultimate success: “That night, I slept snuggled up tight with my mama, praying for all those boys like me searching for their mamas who be searching for them.”

A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-933693-97-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cinco Puntos

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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