Educational and entertaining.

STARRING STEVEN SPIELBERG

THE MAKING OF A YOUNG FILMMAKER

Scenes from a famous director’s childhood.

A young boy watches a train wreck on the big screen in 1952, and it inspires a life of “movie magic.” Steven Spielberg’s story moves from New Jersey to Arizona and then California as he deals with bullies, antisemitism, and his parents’ divorce. Through all these hardships, he found solace in storytelling, whether scaring his sisters with creepy stories or using his dad’s handheld camera to record original scenes. The director once said that “hardly a single one of my films isn’t based on something that happened in my childhood” (one of several quotes from Spielberg incorporated in the text), and many iconic scenes from his movies are situated in the context of his life, like when young Steven let out the science-class frogs before they could be dissected or his father’s recounting of stories from World War II. Panoramic, colorful, action-packed spreads show these details and more, giving the book a cinematic feel. This would be challenging to read aloud—it’s on the longer end, and the prose uses the more complex writing style common for picture-book biographies. It would be ideal for a slightly older audience who want to sink their teeth into a biography but aren’t quite up for a chapter book. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Educational and entertaining. (fun facts, recommended viewing, quote sources) (Picture-book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-33898-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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