MY GREAT-AUNT ARIZONA

Echoing Barbara Cooney's fictionalized picture-book biographies of strong, independent women whose stories both challenged and exemplified their times (Miss Rumphius, 1982; Hattie and the Wild Waves, 1990), Houston (her The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, 1988, was illustrated by Cooney) recounts the story of a great-aunt who spent her entire life in rural North Carolina. Though she dropped out of school to care for the family when her mother died, Arizona was eventually able to fulfill her ambition of becoming a teacher, returning to the one- room school she had attended, marrying, and bringing her own children to school with her but never going to the ``faraway places'' she visited only ``in my mind.'' Arizona doesn't have Hattie's individuality or Miss Rumphius's vision, and her story has less energy and unique flavor than either of theirs; still, Houston's simple narrative is warm and exceptionally graceful and clean, while Lamb's settings (which seem to be in watercolor plus color pencil) are well researched. Her impressionistic outdoor scenes are especially attractive; figures are less expert if lively—the young Arizona reading with high-button shoes aloft, or dancing with skirts aswirl above the knee, are engaging bits of poetic license. A nostalgic but appealing portrait of another generation. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-022606-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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