A sensitive introduction to a young woman whose words continue to live.

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ANNE FRANK'S CHESTNUT TREE

This brief but powerful introduction to Anne Frank’s life uses a format suitable for both newly independent readers and older readers who need simplified text.

The chestnut tree is used as a framing device, providing a narrative hook to introduce Anne and her life in captivity in World War II–era Amsterdam. A quote from Anne’s diary is paired with a powerful image of Anne looking out through an attic window at the tree’s bare branches. The concluding pages detail how the tree finally met its end in a powerful storm; sadness is countered with the hopeful description of hundreds of saplings from the famous tree planted around the world. A rather overwrought final page draws a parallel between these new trees and Anne’s words, which “have been planted in the minds of the millions who read her diary.” (Oddly, the tree depicted here does not appear to be a chestnut.) The context of the Nazi era and the basic facts of Anne’s life are skillfully summarized, ending with her family being sent to concentration camps and a brief acknowledgement that “Anne did not survive the war.” Touching illustrations in muted tones augment the portrayal of Anne’s character and add to the atmospheric depiction of her life in the Secret Annex.

A sensitive introduction to a young woman whose words continue to live. (bibliography, author’s note) (Early reader/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-449-81255-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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