PARROTS, PUGS, AND PIXIE DUST

A BOOK ABOUT FASHION DESIGNER JUDITH LEIBER

Admiration for a unique talent shines as brightly as her jeweled creations in this biographical homage.

Judith Leiber designed over-the-top jeweled evening bags that have become cherished collector’s items.

She and her family survived World War II and the Holocaust as forced laborers in factories, living in shared apartments with other Jewish families and later hiding in a basement. All the while she kept dreaming of the bags she would make someday. She married an American and moved to New York, where she worked for many handbag companies and then started her own, making her signature bags for the rich and famous. They took the form of animals or food and all kinds of imaginative shapes. Each bag was covered in jewels and crystals in a plethora of shining, gleaming, bright colors. Blumenthal blends biographical facts with glowing, almost breathless descriptions of the unusual, beautiful bags and their celebrated owners. Readers may notice that the chronology is off; they learn that Leiber started her own company in 1963 and then, a few pages later, that Leiber designed Mamie Eisenhower’s bag for the 1953 inaugural balls. D’yans’ softly hued, slightly fuzzy illustrations depict many of the bags noted by the author and seem to shine as brightly as the bags themselves. Dark, muddy hues appropriately limn the Holocaust years.

Admiration for a unique talent shines as brightly as her jeweled creations in this biographical homage. (author’s note, photographs, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

WHEN SPARKS FLY

THE TRUE STORY OF ROBERT GODDARD, THE FATHER OF US ROCKETRY

Disappointingly lackadaisical.

Punctuated—unsurprisingly—by explosions, an account of the groundbreaking rocketeer’s childhood and first experiments.

Fueled by an early interest in hands-on science nurtured by his parents and sparked by reading The War of the Worlds, Goddard’s ambition to “build something that would soar to space” led to years of experimentation and failure analysis. Finally, in 1926, a brief but successful flight pointed the way to “every shuttle that has blasted into space, every astronaut who has defied gravity, and every man who has walked on the moon.” Fulton occasionally skimps on scientific details (in one childhood trial Robert “emptied a small vial of hydrogen into a pan”; even in the backmatter, there’s no explanation why, as he notes in his journal, “Hydrogen and oxygen when combined near a flame will ignite”). Still, she highlights the profound curiosity and determined, methodical effort that ultimately earned her subject a well-deserved place in the pantheon of scientists and inventors. Scientific gear in Funck’s cartoon illustrations often looks generic, and in one scene he depicts a rocket that is markedly different from the one described in the adjacent narrative. Moreover, his explosions look like fried eggs, and most come with oddly undersized if all-capped onomatopoeia (“BOOM!”; “POP!”) that underplays both the melodramatic potential and the real danger to which Goddard must have exposed himself. Goddard and his family are white.

Disappointingly lackadaisical. (afterword, list of sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6098-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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