GANDHI

Demi (The Emperor’s New Clothes, 2000, etc.) emphasizes the self-transforming powers that enabled Gandhi to change from frightened child to English gentleman to tongue-tied lawyer to ultimate servant of mankind with unshakable faith in the force of nonviolence and love. Perhaps because this is an overview, Demi gets the chronology of events right, but is less successful at bringing to life the man who’s widely regarded as one of the most influential of the 20th century and translating his philosophy into a compelling story. There are big themes to tackle: civil rights, the caste system, Satyagraha, Jainism, not to mention the socio-political milieu of turn-of-the century South Africa and colonial India. Though not without dramatic incident, this is of necessity, weighted with philosophy and brief definitions. And Gandhi, as one of the grand electrifying figures on the human stage, might have benefited from more expressive storytelling. In the delicate balancing act necessitated by presenting a “saint,” this veers perilously close to hagiography. Fortunately, the illustrations, though formal in presentation, present Gandhi more dramatically. Executed in Demi’s signature style, many are based on actual photographs. Some, like the Yeravada Jail, in which Gandhi began an important fast, would benefit from captions, and the action presented in others is not always made clear in the text. Lavish and rich in color, detail, and design, though, Demi’s style is both appropriate to the setting and particularly successful in depicting the diminutive Gandhi in his simple white garb symbolically isolated or in a throng. A note expands on Gandhi’s significance, but does little to document the authority of the work. Nevertheless, a heartfelt, handsome, and uplifting treatment for those who already have prior background and interest. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84149-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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FARMER GEORGE PLANTS A NATION

A pleasing new picture book looks at George Washington’s career through an agricultural lens. Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington’s place as the nation’s First Farmer. His innovations, in addition to applying the scientific method to compost, include a combination plow-tiller-harrow, the popularization of the mule and a two-level barn that put horses to work at threshing grain in any weather. Thomas integrates Washington’s military and political adventures into her account, making clear that it was his frustration as a farmer that caused him to join the revolutionary cause. Lane’s oil illustrations, while sometimes stiff, appropriately portray a man who was happiest when working the land. Backmatter includes a timeline, author’s notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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