A visual—and, it must be said, spiritual—delight.

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MARTÍN DE PORRES

THE ROSE IN THE DESERT

With images of surpassing beauty and power and a text both simple and lyrical, Diaz and Schmidt tell the life of the first black saint of the Americas.

Martín’s mother was African, his father a Spanish nobleman. His father took his children from Lima, Peru, where they lived in desperate poverty, to Ecuador, where he gave them his name. Back in Lima, Martín was apprenticed to a healer, and at 15 he asked admittance to the monastery. Because of his mixed blood he could not be a priest, but he offered himself as a servant. His gifts as a healer became known throughout the city, and Spanish nobles waited for his healing touch while he first tended the poorest and most desperate, both human and animal. Schmidt recounts the story using repeated motifs: the dark eyes of the boy; the frowns of the Spaniards; the name-calling. Diaz achieves an extraordinary luminosity in his illustrations. The tenderness with which Martín treats his charges, the vivid expressions of those who scorn him and those who rely on him, and the balance of shape and stunning color make each page shine. A note offers further details, but, alas, there is no bibliography.

A visual—and, it must be said, spiritual—delight. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-61218-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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