Not a standout on the Earhart shelf.

AMELIA EARHART IS ON THE MOON?

From the Wait! What? series

Unexpected facts and fun trivia pepper a new biography of Amelia Earhart.

Siblings Paige and Turner, who both present Black, challenge each other’s Earhart knowledge as they share information about the famous pilot. There is no narrative as such. Written as a conversational exchange of facts between the two, the book covers aspects of Earhart’s life including her daredevil youth, a timeline of her impressive flight achievements, her unorthodox marriage to publisher G.P. Putnam, and her life as a celebrity. Even readers who are already well versed in Earhart lore may learn something new, such as the fact that astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s father helped prepare Amelia for her solo flight across the Atlantic. Young readers will enjoy the entertaining antics and background on her childhood, and lively illustrations complement the text. The infodump format moves readers from topic to topic briskly, providing an overview of Earhart’s life and career rather than an in-depth analysis. Many details are packed into a short book, which means that some heavier aspects of her story get a brief treatment that borders on irreverent. Gutman chose to include facts about Earhart’s first car, which she named “Yellow Peril,” in a section of additional facts; this racist term is glossed over rather than addressed with readers. (The reference to the car’s name will be removed in subsequent printings.)

Not a standout on the Earhart shelf. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-01562-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...

MARCEL MARCEAU

MASTER OF MIME

The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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WALT DISNEY

DRAWN FROM IMAGINATION

A squeaky-clean biography of the original Mouseketeer.

Scollon begins with the (to say the least) arguable claim that Disney grew up to “define and shape what would come to be known as the American Century.” Following this, he retraces Disney’s life and career, characterizing him as a visionary whose only real setbacks came from excess ambition or at the hands of unscrupulous film distributors. Disney’s brother Roy appears repeatedly to switch between roles as encourager and lead doubter, but except in chapters covering his childhood, the rest of his family only puts in occasional cameos. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of Disney’s post–World War II redbaiting, and his most controversial film, Song of the South, gets only a single reference (and that with a positive slant). More puzzling is the absence of Mary Poppins from the tally of Disney triumphs. Still, readers will come away with a good general picture of the filmmaking and animation techniques that Disney pioneered, as well as a highlight history of his studio, television work and amusement parks. Discussion questions are appended: “What do you think were Walt Disney’s greatest accomplishments and why?” Brown’s illustrations not seen. An iconic success story that has often been told before but rarely so one-dimensionally or with such firm adherence to the company line. (bibliography) (Biography. 8-10)

 

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9647-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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