There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

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ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Upbeat and celebratory—like Pops himself.

JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO

THE STORY OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Cline-Ransome traces Armstrong’s storied arc, from an impoverished New Orleans childhood to his apex as a giant of jazz.

The episodic narrative, studded with place names, locates in “Little Louis’ ” tough early days the keys to his musical education. Louis helps his family by hauling coal, selling newspapers, and picking through garbage. New Orleans’ omnipresent music permeates his being: “Every day, outside his window, Little Louis listened up and down the streets, to the music of brass bands, funeral marches, honky-tonks on Saturday nights.” Captivated by brilliant cornetist Joe “King” Oliver, Louis buys a pawn-shop cornet, harmonizes in a street band—and runs afoul of the police once too often. Sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, Louis “missed his mama, his sister, and his cornet.” The facility has a performing band, however—and Louis wins over its teacher. In one of several interspersed (but undocumented) quotes, Armstrong quips: “Me and music got married at the home.” Released at 14, he apprentices with Oliver, plays in his bands, and follows him to Chicago and beyond. Ransome’s vivid, saturated paintings depict cityscapes and riverboats, framing Armstrong in windows and rectangular insets, and capturing the music’s joy in paradegoers’ faces. A nuanced author’s note features a detail about Louis’ uncorrected embouchure, and resources include eight well-annotated websites for multimedia study.

Upbeat and celebratory—like Pops himself. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3428-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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