Overall, a fine celebration of a renowned woman artist.

MAYA LIN

ARTIST-ARCHITECT OF LIGHT AND LINES

A concise biography introduces the Chinese-American artist and designer Maya Lin, best known for her architectural plan for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Lin, the child of a ceramic artist and a poet who “had fled China at a time when people were told…how to think,” spends hours as a child playing in the nearby woods and building miniature towns of “paper and scraps.” Lin is in her last year of college when she enters a competition to design a proposed memorial to Vietnam War veterans, to be built on the National Mall. The design had to include the 58,000 names of those soldiers who had died in Vietnam. Lin’s design was chosen in the anonymous competition but was not without controversy when her name was revealed. The illustration of the completed memorial focuses on the wall and Lin’s original concept, built into the earth, rising and falling with the landscape, rather than the compromised result, with statues representing soldiers. Phumiruk’s clean-lined, crisp illustrations, done in Photoshop, and light palette emphasize connections between Lin’s concepts and the strong influences of nature on Lin’s art. The margins of the page containing Harvey’s author’s note about Lin’s work are filled with artists’ and architects’ tools, neatly labeled: ink pens, blueprints, pastels. Harvey provides websites for further information but no specific sources for her work.

Overall, a fine celebration of a renowned woman artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-11249-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE

Bewitched by the rhythms of jazz all around her in Depression-era Kansas City, little Melba Doretta Liston longs to make music in this fictional account of a little-known jazz great.

Picking up the trombone at 7, the little girl teaches herself to play with the support of her Grandpa John and Momma Lucille, performing on the radio at 8 and touring as a pro at just 17. Both text and illustrations make it clear that it’s not all easy for Melba; “The Best Service for WHITES ONLY” reads a sign in a hotel window as the narrative describes a bigotry-plagued tour in the South with Billie Holiday. But joy carries the day, and the story ends on a high note, with Melba “dazzling audiences and making headlines” around the world. Russell-Brown’s debut text has an innate musicality, mixing judicious use of onomatopoeia with often sonorous prose. Morrison’s sinuous, exaggerated lines are the perfect match for Melba’s story; she puts her entire body into her playing, the exaggerated arch of her back and thrust of her shoulders mirroring the curves of her instrument. In one thrilling spread, the evening gown–clad instrumentalist stands over the male musicians, her slide crossing the gutter while the back bow disappears off the page to the left. An impressive discography complements a two-page afterword and a thorough bibliography.

Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60060-898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A humorous tribute to the zany, determined and innovative side of invention.

PAPA'S MECHANICAL FISH

Young Virena, one of four children, provides inspiration for her aspiring inventor papa’s latest ambitious construction: a submarine.

Fleming bases her tale on the true story of Civil War–era inventor Lodner Phillips, who tried his hand at submarine design on the shores of Lake Michigan. In Fleming’s lively, enthusiastic account, Papa builds three increasingly large and more complicated underwater vehicles, each of which sinks, with Papa emerging cheerfully, if damply, ready for the next round. As Virena muses on the nature of marine life, providing Papa with ideas for improvements, the baby interjects disarmingly funny comments: “No pee pee!” chortles the baby when Virena asks how fish stay dry. The Whitefish IV has room for everyone, and Papa puts his entire family into the contraption—somehow the cheerful presentation keeps readers from worrying about the outcome. Kulikov’s expansive, comical illustrations offer exaggerated perspectives from above and below the deep blue-green water, huge and beautiful fish just under the surface and a loving family for the determined inventor. Blueprints for each version of the mechanical fish are included—a neat glimpse into the invention process—while the peculiarly human expressions on the family bulldog remind readers that this is a fantasy. An author’s note and an extensive list of adult resources give background information about the real Lodner Phillips.

A humorous tribute to the zany, determined and innovative side of invention. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-39908-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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