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From the Who Did It First? series

An inspiring biography of athletes, friends, partners, and sisters.

The latest book in the Who Did it First? series focuses on the lives of tennis-star sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

As one would expect, the book spotlights the tennis greats’ major successes and challenges in the sport, but it places an equal focus on the relationship among all the Williams sisters: Venus, Serena, Isha, Lyndrea, and the late Yetunde. Leslie moves through her account efficiently, enabling young readers to glean important information about the subjects without bogging them down in details. The book begins with their early days on the tennis court in Compton, California, and continues through 2016, when they opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center in honor of the oldest of the five sisters, who died due to gun violence. In chronicling Venus’ and Serena’s professional lives, the book does not shy away from the racism that the two faced from other players and tennis fans. Glenn’s illustrations represent the subjects well and capture the sisters’ signature beads and braids from their early years in the sport. The text falters a bit, failing to reveal why Venus refers to Serena as “Meeka,” nor does it locate geographically the Indian Wells tournament the sisters boycotted after receiving racist jeers. Dialogue is unsourced, but the backmatter includes a timeline and additional resources. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.3% of actual size.) An inspiring biography of athletes, friends, partners, and sisters. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30740-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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

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