A loving testament to light and hope and the vision of a remarkable woman.

A Jewish Polish woman resurrects her hometown through photographs.

Yaffa Eliach (1935-2016) grew up in the shtetl town of Eishyshok, Poland. She and her family lived there contentedly until the Germans occupied the town in 1941 and murdered most of its Jewish population. Yaffa and her family escaped and hid until the war ended. Before, one of Yaffa’s favorite childhood activities was assisting her grandmother, the town photographer, who documented weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other celebrations; these photos were mailed to relatives around the world. Years later, Yaffa, now a married history professor and Holocaust scholar residing in America, was tasked by President Jimmy Carter with creating an exhibit for Washington, D.C.’s new United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Determined to celebrate life instead of destruction, Yaffa spent years tracking down thousands of photos of Eishyshok’s residents and descendants, traveling around America and the world. The result: the Tower of Life, depicted in a 90-degree book turn. One of the actual photos contained in the memorial—included herein—shows Yaffa herself as a child in Eishyshok in her father’s arms; another childhood photo of Yaffa is also included in the book. Though it tackles dark themes, this heartfelt story is ultimately uplifting. The illustrations, rendered in ink, watercolor, and digital collage, brim with warm, colorful details. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A loving testament to light and hope and the vision of a remarkable woman. (timeline, bibliography, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-22589-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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