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

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 picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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