Like the faces on Mount Rushmore, this entry in the series provides a face but falls short on substance

READ REVIEW

ABRAHAM

From the Mount Rushmore series

Following Theodore (2006) and George (2012), Keating adds a new face to the Mount Rushmore series.

In a first-person narrative that incorporates many quotations of his own words, the 16th president looks back on his life and accomplishments and presents himself glowingly in the process. He’s Honest Abe, liberator of slaves, savior of the union, protector of the Constitution. There’s no room here for or even a hint at complex issues and moral decisions; the icon is paramount. Wimmer’s oil-on-canvas paintings are the star, with stately full-page images complementing the text, though they too elide complexity. A slave-auction image feels rather like an exercise in illustrating period dress (fashionable white men and auctioneer), with only a dangling shackle to indicate the enslaved human foregrounded but placed discreetly to the side, back to readers. The dramatic Civil War image is reminiscent of Mort Kunstler’s famous war scenes in drama and palette. The narrative and the many quotations are an uneasy mix, the sometimes-stately tone of speech excerpts jarring with Keating’s straightforward narrative voice, and quotations sometimes overwhelm the text. Backmatter includes the text of “The Gettysburg Address” and a brief bibliography of scholarly works but no guide to the many fine works on the subject for young readers.

Like the faces on Mount Rushmore, this entry in the series provides a face but falls short on substance . (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9319-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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