Striking, memorable imagery—a lost hat enjoying a new life as a bird’s nest, the mystery of a cicada’s molted...

ARE YOU AN ECHO?

THE LOST POETRY OF MISUZU KANEKO

A combined picture-book biography and brief anthology of poems by Japan’s foremost 20th-century poet for children.

In her brief life, Misuzu Kaneko wrote and published hundreds of poems exploring the feelings of snowflakes and sardines, whales and birds. After her death, though her work was translated into many other languages, Misuzu’s poetry fell into obscurity in Japan, revived only following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Tohoku. The biographical portion of the book, by journalist Jacobson, covers Misuzu’s triumphs and tragedies, incorporating 10 poems that reflect her interest in the natural world and her gift for investing creatures and inanimate objects with unique perspectives. This section also sensitively addresses Misuzu’s suicide at age 26, following the swift progression of a then-untreatable sexually transmitted infection contracted from her husband. The second half of the book, which can be read along with the biography or separately, comprises 15 more of Misuzu’s poems—presented in both the original Japanese and in translation—accompanied by warm, thematically related illustrations. Each brief poem addresses nature, children’s observations, or both, in language that will be both accessible to the youngest readers and thought-provoking for adult caregivers.

Striking, memorable imagery—a lost hat enjoying a new life as a bird’s nest, the mystery of a cicada’s molted husk—guarantees fruitful rereadings for readers of all ages. (Picture book/poetry/biography. 6-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63405-962-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Chin Music Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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

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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