Through Chanel’s incomplete story, Byrne encourages readers to explore their creativity and remain steadfast in following...

ALONG CAME COCO

A STORY ABOUT COCO CHANEL

More a celebration of Coco Chanel’s creative spirit than a straightforward biography, this book portrays the petite French waif as a smiling, self-confident rule breaker with an innate flair for fashion and a big imagination.

Chanel found it difficult to follow the rigid discipline of the strict nuns who ran the orphanage where she grew up. She was, however, inspired by the “dramatic and mysterious” black-and-white habits they wore. With an eye for style and a talent for sewing, Chanel was determined to follow her own unique vision of fashion as soon as she was old enough to leave the orphanage. Chanel’s practical yet fashionable designs did not impress everyone, but her emphasis on comfort, simplicity, and breaking long-standing rules of fashion caught on and changed forever how women dressed. Byrne’s illustrations in pen and ink and watercolor are appropriately stylish and energetic. The endpapers feature women wearing Chanel’s many creations. In an afterword, Byrne notes the difficulty of distinguishing fact from fiction due to Chanel’s penchant for embellishing stories throughout her life. Byrne does not acknowledge established controversies about Chanel: her anti-Semitism, homophobia, and collaboration with the Nazi occupation. Omitted from the bibliography is Hal Vaughan’s adult biography Sleeping with the Enemy (2001), which discusses them.

Through Chanel’s incomplete story, Byrne encourages readers to explore their creativity and remain steadfast in following their dreams—but aren’t there other, better subjects that could serve the same purpose? (selected bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3425-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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