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

THE TOWER OF LIFE

HOW YAFFA ELIACH REBUILT HER TOWN IN STORIES AND PHOTOGRAPHS

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 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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