An appealing but oddly truncated biography.



The story of how Charles Schulz became a cartoonist and created the “Peanuts” comic strip.

“Someday, Charles, you’re going to be an artist!” said Charles Schulz’s teacher after he had drawn an odd snow scene with a palm tree in a snowbank. Charles, nicknamed Sparky by an uncle, always liked to draw, and his family always read the comics together. Sparky would copy his favorite characters for practice, and he even submitted a drawing of his dog, Spike, for the Believe It or Not cartoon, and it was accepted! After high school, he began submitting cartoons to popular magazines and piled up many rejection letters. Eventually, though, the Saturday Evening Post started buying his single-panel cartoons, and the United Feature Syndicate offered Schulz a five-year contract if he would develop his characters further: “Peanuts” was born. And there the volume ends, with Schulz on the verge of great success as a cartoonist, information about the “Peanuts” gang—Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and others—reserved for the backmatter. The illustrations were created with pen and ink, colored pencil, and gouache paint, and frequent use of paneled illustrations appropriately suggests Schulz’s future comic-book world. It’s a largely white world; the only reference to a character of color is in the backmatter, with Franklin in the dramatis personae of the “Peanuts” strip.

An appealing but oddly truncated biography. (author’s note, artist’s note, places to visit, sources, notes) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17373-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Rhymed introductions to 15 mighty mites.

From the bee hummingbird, which can fly backward and upside down, to wood frogs, which survive winter’s cold as “frogsicles,” and axolotls able to regenerate major body parts, the focus in this poetry collection is on superpowers in tiny packages. Stone sings the praises of each in brisk free or rhymed verse; of the hardy tardigrade, she states, “And bear in mind, although it’s wee, / it’s tougher that you’ll ever be. / Freezing cold or boiling hot— / too much to bear? This bear thinks not.” The author adds a few quick side notes in amplification, while Spires gives these peewee powerhouses confident looks to match the breezy tone and adds clever touches, like posing the Barbados threadsnake next to a (larger) spaghetti noodle and the aforementioned hummingbird near an actual bee. A Black-presenting child soaring in a homemade hot air balloon brings up the rear with a reassuring message: “ ‘You’re just a kid,’ is their excuse. / ‘Too super small to be of use.’ / But I know this isn’t true. / There’s lots of stuff that I can do.” The author leaves off with a final, direct challenge: “What is YOUR superpower?” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Small wonders. (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781771646567

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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Another feather in McCloskey’s cap.


Budding naturalists who dug We Dig Worms! (2015) will, well, coo over this similarly enlightening accolade.

A curmudgeonly park visitor’s “They’re RATS with wings!” sparks spirited rejoinders from a racially diverse flock of children wearing full-body bird outfits, who swoop down to deliver a mess of pigeon facts. Along with being related to the dodo, “rock doves” fly faster than a car, mate for life, have been crossbred into all sorts of “fancies,” inspired Pablo Picasso to name his daughter “Paloma” in their honor, can be eaten (“Tastes like chicken”), and, like penguins and flamingos, create “pigeon milk” in their crops for their hatchlings. Painted on light blue art paper—“the kind,” writes McCloskey in his afterword, “used by Picasso”—expertly depicted pigeons of diverse breeds common and fancy strut their stuff, with views of the children and other wild creatures, plus occasional helpful labels, interspersed. In the chastened parkgoer’s eyes, as in those of the newly independent readers to whom this is aimed, the often maligned birds are “wonderful.” Cue a fresh set of costumed children on the final page, gearing up to set him straight on squirrels.

Another feather in McCloskey’s cap. (Graphic informational early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935179-93-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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