This excellent and uplifting account of a grim American era promotes hope and kindness.



An author and inspirational speaker offers a picture-book biography of her father that explores segregation and access to education.

Set during the 1930s in a segregated Mississippi, Burgess’ (Flawless Leadership, 2016, etc.) work chronicles how, as a boy, Earnest McEwen Jr. loved to read anything he could get his hands on. His black parents both worked in the cotton fields, and Ernie dreamed of a better life for his family. He wanted to go to college. Ernie finished high school, where he met his future wife, Millie. After getting a job as a janitor at the University of Mississippi, he met two professors who introduced him to William Faulkner. The author changed Ernie’s life by paying his tuition to Alcorn, a university for black students. “Pass it on”—the only repayment Faulkner requested—became Ernie’s motto, which he gave to his daughters, as explained in the author’s note at the end. The superb story is full of hope, showing people reaching across boundaries to help one another and provide a better life for the next generation. The details in Purnell’s (A Homerun for Bunny, 2013, etc.) beautifully realistic paintings and his attention to the faces of his subjects draw in readers. In this book, initially funded via Kickstarter, Burgess’ vocabulary is accessible. While she never talks down to readers, she presents the material in an approachable fashion.

This excellent and uplifting account of a grim American era promotes hope and kindness.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9986314-2-4

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Two Sylvias Press

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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From the artist who created last year's shoutingly vivid Growing Vegetable Soup, a companion volume about raising a flower garden. "Mom and I" plant bulbs (even rhizomes), choose seeds, buy seedlings, and altogether grow about 20 species. Unlike the vegetables, whose juxtaposed colors were almost painfully bright, the flowers make a splendidly gaudy array, first taken together and then interestingly grouped by color—the pages vary in size here so that colored strips down the right-hand side combine to make a broad rainbow. Bold, stylish, and indubitably inspired by real flowers, there is still (as with its predecessor) a link missing between these illustrations with their large, solid areas of color and the real experience of a garden. The stylized forms are almost more abstractions than representations (and why is the daisy yellow?). There is also little sense of the relative times for growing and blooming—everything seems to come almost at once. Perhaps the trouble is that Ehlert has captured all the color of the garden, but not its subtle gradations or the light, the space, the air, and the continual movement and change.

Pub Date: March 21, 1988

ISBN: 0152063048

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988

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A festive invitation to creative liberation.


A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes.

"A torn piece of paper... / is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint.

A festive invitation to creative liberation. (Pop-up. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5728-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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