OUR STORY BEGINS

YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS SHARE FUN, INSPIRING, AND OCCASIONALLY RIDICULOUS THINGS THEY WROTE AND DREW AS KIDS

Good for aspiring writers and artists.

Twenty-six notable authors and illustrators of children’s books—including the book’s editor—introduce themselves via their childhood memories.

The short, straightforward introduction begins with the editor sharing her inspiration for the book: reading through her oldest writings, stored in “a box in a basement,” and reflecting that other creators have similar boxes. Two years of interviewing, collecting, and collating produced the accessible, enjoyable text that follows. Each creator shares a childhood photograph, a brief memoir, a short biography, and a photographed sample of a creative work from childhood. The order of presentation is determined by the age at which the creative work was accomplished, ranging from 7 to 16. The art and writing samples from childhood are occasionally exciting but more often typical of the age represented—and thus encouraging rather than intimidating to young creatives. The memoirs—all (unsurprisingly) engaging—range from humorous to serious, and some slip in good advice, both about the tools of the craft and about self-marketing. There is a wide diversity of ages and backgrounds, from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor to Alex Gino, from Eric Rohmann to Rita Williams-Garcia. Thanhhà Lai is especially memorable; as a Vietnamese refugee, she had no box of writings: “But it turns out, I don’t need tangible objects. I have my memories.” Her recollection of an oral prose poem from age 8 is one that stands out because it is indeed remarkable for one so young.

Good for aspiring writers and artists. (Collective memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7208-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

THE BOY WHO FAILED SHOW AND TELL

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless.

Tales of a fourth grade ne’er-do-well.

It seems that young Jordan is stuck in a never-ending string of bad luck. Sure, no one’s perfect (except maybe goody-two-shoes William Feranek), but Jordan can’t seem to keep his attention focused on the task at hand. Try as he may, things always go a bit sideways, much to his educators’ chagrin. But Jordan promises himself that fourth grade will be different. As the year unfolds, it does prove to be different, but in a way Jordan couldn’t possibly have predicted. This humorous memoir perfectly captures the square-peg-in-a-round-hole feeling many kids feel and effectively heightens that feeling with comic situations and a splendid villain. Jordan’s teacher, Mrs. Fisher, makes an excellent foil, and the book’s 1970s setting allows for her cruelty to go beyond anything most contemporary readers could expect. Unfortunately, the story begins to run out of steam once Mrs. Fisher exits. Recollections spiral, losing their focus and leading to a more “then this happened” and less cause-and-effect structure. The anecdotes are all amusing and Jordan is an endearing protagonist, but the book comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome with sheer repetitiveness. Thankfully, it ends on a high note, one pleasant and hopeful enough that readers will overlook some of the shabbier qualities. Jordan is White and Jewish while there is some diversity among his classmates; Mrs. Fisher is White.

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless. (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64723-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

THE ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE TO LEAVING THE PLANET

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, FROM TRAINING TO RE-ENTRY

Finally, an astro-memoir for kids that really gets down to the nitty-gritty.

A former space shuttle pilot and International Space Station commander recalls in unusually exacting detail what it’s like to be an astronaut.

In the same vein as his more expansive adult title How To Astronaut (2020), Virts describes and reflects on his experiences with frank and photographic precision—from riding the infamous “Vomit Comet” to what astronauts wear, eat, and get paid. He also writes vividly about what Earth looks like from near orbit: the different colors of deserts, for instance, and storms that “are so powerful that the flashes from the lightning illuminate the inside of the space station.” With an eye to younger audiences with stars in their eyes, he describes space programs of the past and near future in clear, simple language and embeds pep talks about the importance of getting a good education and ignoring nay-sayers. For readers eager to start their training early, he also tucks in the occasional preparatory “Astronaut Activity,” such as taking some (unused) household item apart…and then putting it back together. Lozano supplements the small color photos of our planet from space and astronauts at work with helpful labeled images, including two types of spacesuits and a space shuttle, as well as cartoon spot art depicting diverse figures.

Finally, an astro-memoir for kids that really gets down to the nitty-gritty. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781523514564

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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