A must-have for those who want children to learn about one of the stage’s greatest bards

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FEED YOUR MIND

A STORY OF AUGUST WILSON

One of America’s greatest modern playwrights is introduced to generations of younger readers in this lyrical picture book.

August Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize–winning African American dramatist, is best known for his 10-play Century Cycle, which chronicles the African American experience through different decades in the 20th century. Because his work is targeted toward adults, many young readers might be unfamiliar with Wilson’s life or achievements. Thanks to this timely and elegant picture book, that oversight is now corrected. Conceptually separated into two acts, the book frames Wilson’s life as a play in free-verse form, immersing readers in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a multiracial enclave where Frederick August Kittel Jr. is raised by his hardworking single mother. Act 1 chronicles Wilson’s search for his name and voice, and Act 2 showcases his extraordinary life’s work of using them to bring the African American experience to the stage. The book’s primary goal may be to present Wilson’s life, but it is also an eloquent love letter to literature and a celebration of its power to inspire, to instruct, and to provide hope, guidance, and direction. Bryant’s accomplished free verse and newcomer Chapman’s evocative, realistic illustrations operate in perfect synergy, celebrating the genius of Wilson the playwright while never losing sight of the complications, hardships, and imperfections of Wilson the man.

A must-have for those who want children to learn about one of the stage’s greatest bards . (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3653-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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