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

PARROTS, PUGS, AND PIXIE DUST

A BOOK ABOUT FASHION DESIGNER JUDITH LEIBER

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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An engaging and informative true story of perseverance and discovery.

HOWARD AND THE MUMMY

HOWARD CARTER AND THE SEARCH FOR KING TUT'S TOMB

Fern and Kulikov, collaborators on the picture-book biographies Barnum’s Bones (2012) and W is for Webster (2015), bring the self-taught archaeologist who discovered King Tut’s tomb to life.

Howard Carter’s obsession with mummies began when he was a boy in England and visited a nearby mansion filled with ancient Egyptian artifacts. Carter dreamed of discovering a mummy himself. At 17, he took a job copying ancient art for the Egypt Exploration Fund. Awed by the art and architecture he sketched and copied, Carter was eager to make discoveries of his own. He taught himself the methodologies of archaeology, Arabic, geology, Egyptian history, and how to read hieroglyphics. As an antiquities inspector for the Egyptian government, Carter excavated several tombs only to find they had been looted. Undaunted, Carter devised a plan to excavate every unsearched inch in the Valley of the Kings. His dogged persistence paid off in 1922 when he discovered the treasure-filled tomb of Tutankhamun. Quoting from Carter’s own account, Fern infuses her story with excitement. She describes Carter as having a “funky personality” with a “stubborn attitude and worse table manners”; Kulikov’s exaggerated illustrations energetically capture Carter’s ambition and fascination with his subject.

An engaging and informative true story of perseverance and discovery. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30305-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The motivational agenda definitely outpaces the storytelling, but readers will be swept along to the finish line.

FINISH STRONG

SEVEN MARATHONS, SEVEN CONTINENTS, SEVEN DAYS

A veteran marathoner recalls an around-the-world race in 2018.

Still hoofing along after literally Running Across America (2019), McGillivray offers another autobiographical outing. This one sends him over “26.2 cold, crunchy miles” in Antarctica, “26.2 miles of out-and-back loops along the Persian Gulf,” and like distances on five other continents in a single week as a participant in the annual World Marathon Challenge. Though his terse accounts of places, faces, and races along the way are more snapshots than a connected narrative, they add up to some vivid memories, and he builds climactic suspense by describing how he powers through an increasingly painful injury to finish the final leg. Every experience, though, leads to an explicit inspirational slogan: “Set goals, not limits”; “Your greatest accomplishment is your next one”; “Never underestimate your own abilities”; “Finish strong…or weak. Just finish!” The lessons continue as he goes on to describe how a later diagnosis of heart disease (“Just because you’re fit, doesn’t mean you’re healthy”) led to surgery and—because a “comeback is always stronger than the setback”—a run in the Boston Marathon six months later. If that last bit seems aimed more at adults than kids, he goes for a more general audience with a final page of alternative “marathons,” like “Read! 26 Books” and “Reach Out! 26 Acts of Big-Hearted Kindness” modeled on a St. Louis initiative. Staid illustrations place the White author front and center in stylized foreign settings, occasionally with racially diverse groups of onlookers or fellow runners in the background.

The motivational agenda definitely outpaces the storytelling, but readers will be swept along to the finish line. (Picture book/memoir. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64741-039-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nomad Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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