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

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

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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

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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