An appealing but oddly truncated biography.

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BORN TO DRAW COMICS

THE STORY OF CHARLES SCHULZ AND THE CREATION OF PEANUTS

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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Norma Dixon’s Lowdown on Earthworms (2005) digs deeper into the subject, but this lays fertile groundwork for budding...

WE DIG WORMS!

Beginning readers who tunnel through this upbeat first introduction will “dig” them too.

After an opening look at several kinds of worm (including the candy sort), McCloskey drills down to the nitty-gritty on earthworms. He describes how they help soil with their digging and “poop” (“EEW!”) and presents full-body inside and outside views with labeled parts. He also answers in the worms’ collective voice such questions as “Why do you come out after the rain?” and “How big is the biggest worm in the world?” that are posed by a multiethnic cast of intent young investigators in the cartoon illustrations. A persistent but frustrated bluebird’s “Yum, yum!!” and rejected invitations to lunch offer indirect references to worms as food sources, and reproductive details are likewise limited to oblique notes that worms have big families “born from cocoons.” Single scenes mingle with short sequences of panels in pictures that are drawn on brown paper bags for an appropriately earthy look.

Norma Dixon’s Lowdown on Earthworms (2005) digs deeper into the subject, but this lays fertile groundwork for budding naturalists. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-935179-80-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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While a decent addition to any basic, multicultural, multifaith library, it is not outstanding in any way.

SHLOKAS

HINDU CHANTS FOR CHILDREN

From the Campfire Awakening series

A small collection of short verses used in Hindu worship presented in both English and Sanskrit.

Each spread in this slim volume presents one Sanskrit shloka, or verse, with a phonetic transcription and an English translation. Each verse is dedicated to a particular deity and paired with a digital illustration, attributed to “Team Campfire.” The illustrations draw inspiration from Indian calendar art, a genre that has historically had impact on worship in public and private spaces, and will feel rather ordinary to those familiar with this mass-produced art form. Although the introductory text reads, “We hope this book proves invaluable in helping create an awareness among children of the spiritual legacy of Sanskrit texts,” it offers limited scaffolding for readers unfamiliar with Hinduism. The one-page survey of Indian scriptural traditions is thin, and the deities described are not contextualized. In addition, these verses are sacred and are believed to have psychological and spiritual powers only if pronounced perfectly. To mitigate this, there is an inadequate pronunciation guide and a QR code on the back cover that can be scanned to access an audio version of the book. For readers familiar with Hinduism and/or growing up in Hindu homes, this likely replicates many texts readily available in temple retail spaces or via community connections.

While a decent addition to any basic, multicultural, multifaith library, it is not outstanding in any way. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-82-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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