Occasionally mannered but heartfelt throughout and indisputably timely.

HER RIGHT FOOT

Everyone knows what the Statue of Liberty stands for—but, as Eggers notes, she’s not actually “standing” at all.

Taking his time, as usual, at getting to the point, Eggers opens with the often told tale of the monument’s origins, preliminary construction, deconstruction, and shipping to “a city called New York, which is in a state also called New York.” He describes the statue’s main features, from crown to gown (“a very heavy kind of garment,” likely to cause “serious lower back issues”)—and points out that her right heel is not planted but lifted. What does this signify? That “…she is walking! This 150 foot woman is on the go!” She’s stepping out into the harbor, he suggests, to give new arrivals from Italy and Norway, Cambodia and Estonia, Syrians, Liberians, and all who have or will come an eager welcome. After all, he writes, she’s an immigrant too, and: “She is not content to wait.” In Harris’ ink-and–construction-paper collages, Parisian street scenes give way to close-up views of the brown (later green) ambulatory statue, alternating with galleries of those arrivals and their descendants, who are all united in their very diversity of age, sex, dress, and skin color. Photos, including one of the Emma Lazarus poem, cap this urgent defense of our “Golden Door.”

Occasionally mannered but heartfelt throughout and indisputably timely. (bibliography, source list) (Picture book. 9-13, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6281-2

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Street makes a better critic than comedian, but he has some solid insights to share.

HOW TO BE AN ART REBEL

How to make looking at art more fun—or at least not staid.

Led by a marmalade cat in a beret and leather jacket, the museum tour is largely designed to encourage “rebels” to look for symbols, metaphors, and messages, hidden or otherwise, in select art reproductions exemplifying various genres, subjects, media, and styles. Efforts to lighten the load with, for instance, references to “butts” and “boobies” in a chapter on “Nude Art,” a cartoon fart added by Wright to the Mona Lisa, and a 17th-century still life not of fruit or flowers but hunks of cheese by Clara Peeters (“one of the best cheese painters ever”) really only distract from Street’s often acute comments. Readers who look beyond the yuks will learn that the necklace of thorns Frida Kahlo placed about her neck in a self portrait evokes her chronic physical ills and the importance of understanding that abstract art isn’t about things but feelings. Refreshingly, though the genitalia in the Nude Art section are discreetly covered, the bodies on display include one with dwarfism, another that is pregnant and has no arms, and a third that is identified as the artist’s “coming-out.” Young viewers in need of a systematic course in how to see art had best look elsewhere, but they will come away with new tools, ideas worth mulling…and at least two bits of universal life wisdom: “Always have fun. And be weird.”

Street makes a better critic than comedian, but he has some solid insights to share. (glossary, list of artworks) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65164-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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