A glimpse of warm ties between a child who sees pirates and a parent who sees the light.

A father and son come to terms with their differences in this biographical anecdote.

His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have been builders of lighthouses, but young Robert—affectionately nicknamed “Smout”—has no interest in taking up the Stevenson family trade. An aspiring writer, he dreams of “giants and knights in armor, hidden treasure, and pirates. Definitely pirates!” Struggling to keep up on an inspection tour along the coastal moors of Fife, he asks for a pirate yarn. His father stops posing leading questions about geology and engineering and obliges with a rousing tale of buccaneers dashed to bits on a rock because they stole its warning bell. As Yolen affirms in her afterword, that child indeed went on, with his family’s grudging support, to become a famous writer. But she also commends the Stevenson lighthouses, many of which, as shown on an appended map, are still active around Scotland’s rugged coast (and, she notes, the world). Using layers of cut paper, Rayne effectively alternates nautical scenes of castaways and corsairs with depictions of a small child and his cloaked father, both white like all the figures here, climbing lighthouse steps, crossing expanses of choppy water and rocky, windswept shores, and at last going off amicably together, hand in hand. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A glimpse of warm ties between a child who sees pirates and a parent who sees the light. (reading list) (Picture-book biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780807574843

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

Close Quickview