A picture-book portrait that’s beautiful as well as admiring.

READ REVIEW

PRESIDENT LINCOLN

FROM LOG CABIN TO WHITE HOUSE

With a jewel cutter’s precision of image and a like economy of language, Demi tells the story of the 16th U.S. president.

She succeeds particularly well at conveying the iconic stories associated with Lincoln: birth in the one-room log cabin; the early death of his mother and the arrival of a gifted and loving stepmother; the fierce self-education; the debates against his Senate opponent, Stephen Douglas, which Lincoln lost but which brought him wide attention. Almost every page or double-page spread holds a quote from Lincoln set on a small scroll, reflecting the primary narrative. The Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and his assassination continue the story. Demi includes child-friendly details such as Lincoln’s love of animals and his creation of the Thanksgiving holiday while also conveying the larger sweep of history in his Gettysburg Address and the participation of thousands of African-Americans as soldiers for the Union cause. The figures look almost like porcelain miniatures, each tiny and detailed, using bits of collage and a color scheme with a great deal of red, white, and blue. While there are no footnotes, the backmatter includes a map of the United States in 1861, the full text of the Gettysburg Address, a timeline of Lincoln’s life, and further quotes.

A picture-book portrait that’s beautiful as well as admiring. (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937786-50-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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