“A very special fairy story,” indeed.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

THE JOURNEY OF HIS LIFE

Traveling by coach across Denmark, an elderly Hans Christian Andersen recounts the story of his life to an inquisitive child, couching it as a fairy tale in which he learns to fly and inherits “the kingdom of letters.”

In this smoothly translated blend of biography and storytelling, Janisch uses Andersen’s own metaphor: The Danish writer called his memoir The Fairy Tale of My Life. Without weighting his story with specific detail (available in the author’s note), the author conveys a compelling sense of the man whose stories have been loved around the world and across centuries. Kastelic uses a variety of palettes and page designs to give this tale its wings. Both the journey and Andersen’s narrative are depicted mostly in panels—the present of the journey in light colors, the past in sepia tones. But the tales Andersen’s father reads to him as a boy and the stories the adult Andersen tells are brighter and shown in full pages. Repeated images of flight suggest that the writer-to-be escaped from a difficult childhood by immersing himself in the imagined world. In one striking spread the colors of the imagined world slightly bleed into young Hans’ arrival in Copenhagen. In another, storybook characters and even an elderly Andersen appear in a crowd scene of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Early on, readers see the shadow of Andersen’s wings, and, in a surprise conclusion, he shows he can still make his audience fly.

“A very special fairy story,” indeed. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder.

GOODNIGHT, ASTRONAUT

From childhood, an astronaut dreamed of adventurous exploration.

Famed NASA astronaut Kelly played imaginative games with his twin brother, Mark (also an astronaut), from the time they were kids, presaging both men’s future space careers by wearing cardboard-box helmets. Their mother supported their high-flying dreams at bedtime. Ever entranced by the sky, the brothers imagined aboveground adventures in the backyard treehouse and on a family cruise, where they fantasized about being weightless as the boat was tossed by the waves. In adulthood, Kelly undertook hardier journeys, and his dreams continued to spark his longings for space navigation: He steered Navy vessels and piloted jets; camped out in icy climates and explored the seas; and climbed Mount Everest. Kelly attained his astronaut goal by joining the crew of the space shuttle Discovery, then earned renown for his yearlong stint on the International Space Station. Though Kelly acknowledges home is best, he encourages readers to dream about having adventures; a charming concluding illustration features a brown-skinned girl dreaming of myriad possibilities. The engaging, gently poetic text describes the author’s ambitious, lifelong skyward trajectory and his stops along the way to space, helping youngsters understand what goes into astronaut training. Colorful, appealing illustrations capture Kelly’s fascinating odyssey, beginning in childhood, and the starry reaches of space. Scott and Mark Kelly present White; some background characters are people of color. The backmatter includes two pages of color photos. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 49.9% of actual size.)

A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6428-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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