Strap Buckner was one of the original Old Three Hundred to settle Texas with Stephen Austin, and legend rose around him to compete with his serious size. He’d thump a welcoming hand on the back of a fella and send him sprawling. Here, Wooldridge (Wicked Jack, 1995, etc.) and Glass (Mountain Men, p. 659, etc.) concoct a truly larger-than-life character who wallops every man he meets, every time, always with “great grace,” if tinged with a touch of bombast and bravado. Wooldridge has an excellent way with words: “ ‘It is ever thus with a man of genius,’ he lamented. ‘To be misunderstood, shunned, avoided by the common folk of the world!’ ” This after his townspeople start to fade into the shadows whenever he appears. Glass depicts Strap in oafish counterpoint to Wooldridge’s windbaggery, with an unruly mop of red hair and a ponderous gut. Strap moves from town to town, ultimately to be circumvented every time, until his better side advises him to seek peace and forsake his genius to clobber. “But the devil never can let a man’s good resolve go unchallenged.” Soon Strap is hurling a dare to fight all comers—and readers are ready to see the boaster come down a peg or two. The Infernal Fiend takes up Strap’s offer—“He saw pride in Strap’s eyes and heard the echo of it in Strap’s boast”—and succeeds in taking the tar out of Strap. A robust and high-humored version of the Strap Buckner legend, full of the over-the-top yarning now associated with Texas. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1536-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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This second early biography of Cousteau in a year echoes Jennifer Berne’s Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau (2008), illustrated by Eric Puybaret, in offering visuals that are more fanciful than informational, but also complements it with a focus less on the early life of the explorer and eco-activist than on his later inventions and achievements. In full-bleed scenes that are often segmented and kaleidoscopic, Yaccarino sets his hook-nosed subject amid shoals of Impressionistic fish and other marine images, rendered in multiple layers of thinly applied, imaginatively colored paint. His customarily sharp, geometric lines take on the wavy translucence of undersea shapes with a little bit of help from the airbrush. Along with tracing Cousteau’s undersea career from his first, life-changing, pair of goggles and the later aqualung to his minisub Sea Flea, the author pays tribute to his revolutionary film and TV work, and his later efforts to call attention to the effects of pollution. Cousteau’s enduring fascination with the sea comes through clearly, and can’t help sparking similar feelings in readers. (chronology, source list) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85573-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.


Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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