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THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY

THE CREATION OF DIAMONDS & THE LIFE OF H. TRACY HALL

A quiet gem.

Engineer and author Holt’s first picture book introduces “A ROCK / named graphite, / A BOY / named Tracy.”

In two, parallel free-verse narratives, Holt tells the stories of both the creation of natural diamonds and the invention of synthetic diamonds. Versos detail how diamonds are naturally produced and harvested: “Mighty, unyielding, brilliant. / The rock would dazzle if it had / any light to reflect, / but it doesn’t. / A crystal, even a priceless one, / is still only a lump / in the dirt / until it is found.” The recto shares the life of H. Tracy Hall (Holt’s grandfather) from his childhood through his invention of his diamond-producing machine: “Mighty, unyielding, brilliant. / His inventions dazzle classmates. / But Tracy is still penny poor, with so / many ideas floating just out of reach. / … / Even a genius must eat and sleep / before his dreams can be found.” The parallel narrative structure is a compelling one, although occasionally the technique slows the momentum of one or both of the narratives. Illustrator Fleck uses full-bleed spreads of bold colors and simple lines, rendered with pencil and digitally, to effectively emphasize the scope and significance of both creations, cannily varying the palette to emphasize the parallel structure.

A quiet gem. (scientific note, biographical note, timeline, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265903-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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FRIDA KAHLO AND HER ANIMALITOS

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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