A poignant glimpse into an artist in the making.



Internationally acclaimed illustrator McMullan (I’m Fast, 2012), best known for Lincoln Center Theater posters and picture books with his wife, reflects on his childhood in China and wartime journeys in search of home.

Young McMullan, a nervous boy and grandson of missionaries, is born in Cheefoo, China, in 1934. He enjoys a comfortable lifestyle due to the family businesses, including an orphanage and embroidery exports. Soon, World War II dawns, and the Japanese army invades the town, causing the boy and his parents to flee to Shanghai. There, his father joins the British army, while he and his mother set sail for America. In two-page spreads, prose on the left opposite illustrations on the right, memories are recalled with vivid clarity and a quiet strength. The author’s subdued but elegant drawings set the most reverent tones. Tender scenes, such as the author playing next to a rectangle of sunlight while his father bends over the piano or his fascinated examination of brush strokes on Chinese scrolls, illustrate how little moments really do have the greatest impact. Painful and terrifying recollections take shape, as well: his failure to become a “strong little fellow” in his father’s eyes, a bomb scare aboard a passenger freighter or his ineptitude at boxing. These experiences, both extraordinary and ordinary, intertwine to create a memoir that resonates. (Finished, full-color art not seen.)

A poignant glimpse into an artist in the making. (Memoir. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61620-255-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist.



One of the world’s most celebrated creators of civic architecture is profiled in this accessible, engaging biography.

Similar in style and format to her Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (2014) and Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe (2011), Rubin’s well-researched profile examines the career, creative processes, and career milestones of Maya Lin. Rubin discusses at length Lin’s most famous achievement, designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Chinese-American Lin was a reserved college student who entered and won the competition to design and build the memorial. Her youth and ethnicity were subjects of great controversy, and Rubin discusses how Lin fought to ensure her vision of the memorial remained intact. Other notable works by Lin, including the Civil Rights Memorial for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, a library and chapel for the Children’s Defense Fund, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the outdoor Wave Field project are examined but not in as much depth as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Attractively designed, the book is illustrated extensively with color photos and drawings.

An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0837-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A touching portrait of a remarkable celebrity influencer who used her exposure to inspire herself and others.



When the late Canadian figure skater and singer/songwriter Carley Allison, was diagnosed with a rare and deadly cancer at 17, she shared her difficult journey through treatment.

This authorized biography draws from Carley’s blog, text messages, photos on social media, and interviews with family and friends. All testify to Carley’s popularity, upbeat personality, athleticism, competitive drive, and generosity throughout her brief life. She set and met tough goals for herself through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Medical intervention exhausted, she tried residential treatment at an alternative Florida institute claiming cancer cures via a raw, vegan diet. Against her parents’ wishes, doctors told then-19-year-old Carley that she was dying. The timing of events isn’t always clear, and interviews are undated, but the clear intention is to inspire others to remain optimistic and positive: When an effort fails, there’s always something else to try. Contradicting that message is the equally strong portrait of someone exceptional afflicted with an exceedingly rare cancer. Carley, who was of European and Iranian descent, was supported by a loving, financially comfortable family and a loyal network of friends. It’s when the mask of cheery optimism falters that readers truly connect with Carley; then her journey becomes ours. Readers comfortable with social media will be drawn in by the large number of photographs, varied formats, and brief segments.

A touching portrait of a remarkable celebrity influencer who used her exposure to inspire herself and others. (Biography. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0040-0

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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