Draped in striking hues and compelling from cover to cover—a gem of a biography!

Freedom can come in all forms, backgrounds, textures, and hues.

Endpapers depicting brilliant pink fabric foreshadow the motif of fabric and color to come. Poetic prose depicts Christo’s early life, filled with colorful books as well as political and social strife after the Nazis arrived in his Bulgarian town. Orange and red flames leap across the spread from the fireplace in which Christo’s parents burned those colorful, now-dangerous books to keep their family safe. This brutal event influenced Christo, who sought to depict truth and life in his art. Fleeing to France, he discovered an affinity for sculpture—in particular, for wrapping objects in canvas. When he met Jeanne-Claude, they moved to America to pursue their dreams. Though it took 25 years, at last their installation The Gates appeared in Central Park in New York as miles of orange fabric billowed in the wind like the flames in the fireplace, a tangerine curtain defying fascism. Filled with watercolor and gouache whorls outlined in black, each spread pops and crackles with dazzling colors. Close-up vignettes accompany full-page illustrations, enticing readers to slow down and look again and again. The concise yet vivid text is supplemented by extensive backmatter that includes photographs, author’s and artist’s notes, and more. This one is perfect for storytimes and interdisciplinary curriculum units alike. Chisto and Jeanne-Claude present White; background characters are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Draped in striking hues and compelling from cover to cover—a gem of a biography! (notes, selected sources) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5611-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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