A brilliant composer’s legacy perpetuated, happily for today’s music lovers, by stalwart friendships.

OUR LITTLE MUSHROOM

A STORY OF FRANZ SCHUBERT AND HIS FRIENDS

A virtuoso gets his due.

Franz Schubert, dubbed “Our Little Mushroom” by friends because he was small and rotund, adored music from childhood. Narrated by “we,” in the voice of his (mostly) unnamed, devoted friends, this lighthearted, informative biography discusses the brief life and career of the quiet Viennese prodigy. His father discouraged his musical ambition, citing its risky financial future. However, friends encouraged Schubert to follow his passion, and, in early adulthood, he joined them in pursuing a life devoted to the arts. These allies promoted Schubert’s vast accomplishments, enabling him to present impromptu concerts from which he earned a stellar reputation and ardent admirers, though no income; he gave only one paid public concert during his lifetime. By the time Schubert died at age 31 in 1828 (a year after the death of his idol, Ludwig van Beethoven, at whose funeral he’d been a torchbearer), he’d produced 1,000 musical works, including lieder—lyrical songs—some set to friends’ poems. This well-written, inspirational book might interest adults more than children, but youngsters studying Schubert’s piano pieces could also appreciate it; children would benefit from hearing the master’s music after listening to or reading this title. The delicate watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations are lively, admirably capturing Schubert’s fervent spirit and historical details of time and place. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A brilliant composer’s legacy perpetuated, happily for today’s music lovers, by stalwart friendships. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture-book biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8878-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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