ON WINGS OF WORDS

THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON

A biographical introduction to the unusual life of 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson.

An inquisitive child who explored “every bird, every flower, every bee or breeze or slant of light,” Emily adored her brother and enjoyed her school friends, experienced intense feelings, thoughts, and desires, and loved reading, which felt like traveling “on a sea of words.” When people failed to answer her existential questions, Emily put “faith in what she could see and understand.” Gradually, her thoughts and feelings emerged as poems that set her free and allowed her to dwell in an inner world “bigger than all the world outside.” Continuing to enjoy her gardens, dog, family, select friends, and neighborhood children, the adult Emily rarely left her room, where she wrote and hid hundreds of amazing poems discovered after her death in 1886. Adroitly incorporating language and imagery from Dickinson’s poems as well as whole lines and stanzas, the neatly hand-lettered, lyrical text appropriately focuses on how Emily’s rich inner life crystallized into her remarkable poetry. Splendid illustrations combine both folk-art and surrealist styles to contrast Emily’s limited physical journey from sensitive child to reclusive poet within the confines of her family home with imaginative scenes of her limitless inner life showcasing visual images from her poems. Inspired use of the butterfly motif captures the poet’s enigmatic spirit.

Stunning. (notes on Dickinson and poetry, author’s note, artist’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-4297-5

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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