An homage that is ultimately more a testament to the author-illustrator’s own bookmaking skills than paean to the inventor...

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FROM THE GOOD MOUNTAIN

HOW GUTENBERG CHANGED THE WORLD

Ironically, this book honors the inventor of the printing press more through illustrations than words.

Sumptuously illustrated in the style of medieval manuscripts, this title offers fascinating descriptions of the steps and materials involved in 15th-century bookmaking. Children will savor the explanations and detailed, jewellike illustrations that clearly convey the procedures, substances and skill that went into the preparation of what the text calls a "mysterious thing." Each process and component is discussed on a page that ends in a riddle, answered on a facing page. When Gutenberg (German for from the good mountain) enters, it’s almost anticlimactic. Still, his printing press’s success and the illumination and binding of his first efforts are lucidly related, and a sample page is illustrated. Only on the final page of the story does the author confirm what the press actually produced. Overall, adults will likely be more captivated than children, having greater perspective on and appreciation for what Gutenberg brought forth; no explanation for how Gutenberg’s innovation changed the world is presented for youngsters. However, even adults will be frustrated by the lack of glossary and sources. Young readers desiring further information are given a list of terms to search for on the Internet, though this seems a frail substitute.

An homage that is ultimately more a testament to the author-illustrator’s own bookmaking skills than paean to the inventor of movable type. (epilogue, key search terms) (Picture books/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-542-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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