An inspiring look at a child inventor whose drive and intelligence changed the world—for the blind and sighted alike.

READ REVIEW

SIX DOTS

A STORY OF YOUNG LOUIS BRAILLE

Bryant follows an earlier biography for middle graders with this story, narrated by Louis, imagining life events from birth to age 15.

An accident in his father’s workshop damages Louis’ eye, and an ensuing infection that spreads to the other completely blinds him by age 5. “I sat by the window, training my ears to do what my eyes could not.” Braille’s family helps him adapt, crafting a wooden cane and tactile alphabet letters. “With Maman, I played dominoes, counting the dots with my fingertips.” Louis attends school, “listening and memorizing,” strongly motivated to read and write “on [his] own, like everyone else.” Louis, just 10, persuades his family to send him to the Royal School for the Blind in Paris after a local noblewoman secures his place. Louis endures harsh conditions there, eager to read the library’s promised special books. Their discovery proves disappointing. With sentences covering a half-page, whole books contain precious little. When a French army code is introduced to the students, its punched paper symbols are too complex for most. Louis both masters the code and alters it— brilliantly, at age 15—after years of painstaking work. Kulikov’s engrossing mixed-media illustrations interpose soft pastels with spreads of chalky blue line on ink-black pages, dramatically conveying Louis’ isolation and single-minded intensity.

An inspiring look at a child inventor whose drive and intelligence changed the world—for the blind and sighted alike. (Braille alphabet, French pronunciation guide, author’s note, Q-and-A, print and web resources) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-449-81337-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more