Inspiringly shows how Maria Tallchief persisted and made her dreams come true.


From the She Persisted series

Maria Tallchief is an American ballet legend, but she came from a humble beginning.

Elizabeth “Betty” Marie Tall Chief grew up on the Osage reservation in northeastern Oklahoma at a time when Osage children were told not to speak their language and to forget their tribal customs even as they enjoyed uncommon wealth due to their reservation’s rich oil deposits. She and her family attended secret powwows, and the songs’ powerful rhythms remained with Betty all her life. After moving to California at 8, she began dance school. Not only was she good at ballet, but she moved ahead academically. But Betty was bullied for her name, so she changed it to one word: Tallchief. Betty “lived and breathed the art of ballet,” listening when her mother offered wise words and encouragement to “dance with all your heart….You shouldn’t just expect a role to be handed to you.” Years later, when she traveled around the world, dancing in famous ballets, she again changed her name from Betty to a variation of her middle name Maria but resisted advice to change her surname, retaining it to honor her family and her Osage identity. Day (Upper Skagit) clearly shows that even as Tallchief became a star in the world of ballet, she never forgot her roots and gives readers necessary history and context to understand their importance. Flint’s black-and-white illustrations excel at depictions of Tallchief in motion.

Inspiringly shows how Maria Tallchief persisted and made her dreams come true. (author's note, bibliography) (Biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11580-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Blandly laudatory.


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.


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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