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An uplifting glimpse into the life of one of America’s most distinguished writers.

Childhood experiences and stories work together to influence one of America’s most important writers.

Born in 1931, Toni Morrison began life as Chloe Ardelia Wofford. Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a poor, segregated town, she enjoyed listening to stories told by her parents and grandparents. She became an excellent reader who loved the music and rhythm of words and language. At 12, she converted to Catholicism, choosing Anthony as her baptismal name. A top student, she attended Howard University, where she asked her friends, who had trouble with her name, to call her Toni. When she married Harold Morrison, an architect, she became Toni Morrison. Work as an editor stirred her desire to tell stories, especially those centering the African American experience. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, launched her writing career, and over the years, she was recognized with many awards, including the Nobel Prize in literature. Her work always reflected the stories and language of her first storytellers. This introduction to Morrison’s life and influences demonstrates how much she was shaped by the experiences of her childhood. As an author of both adult titles and books for younger readers, her path will be of interest to readers of picture-book biographies. Nolen uses evocative language, while Ransome’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations complement and enhance the text with fluidity and a warm palette. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An uplifting glimpse into the life of one of America’s most distinguished writers. (author’s note, list of books by Morrison, important quotes, resources, list of achievements) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7852-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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