OUR ABE LINCOLN

Adapted from an old song and presented as a children’s pantomime, this picture-book survey of the life of the 16th president is well suited for classroom use with early elementary students. The rhyming text begins with Lincoln’s birth and illuminates all the high points, verse by verse. Rather than ending with his death, however, Aylesworth brings the story full circle to once again celebrate Lincoln’s humble beginnings. This helps to emphasize the distance that history lends and softens the sad story. McClintock’s detailed illustrations, in her distinctive, old-fashioned style, capture the charm of young children playing dress-up and likewise serve to give a sense of distance from the disturbing realities of slavery, war and murder. While it seems unlikely that young students will be studying Lincoln’s life and/or the Civil War in any depth, this overview offers an appealing way to introduce the subject. Energetic teachers might even choose to stage the pantomime, as Aylesworth includes the music. A charming tribute. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-439-92548-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

BASKETBALL DREAMS

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

THE FANTASTIC UNDERSEA LIFE OF JACQUES COUSTEAU

This second early biography of Cousteau in a year echoes Jennifer Berne’s Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau (2008), illustrated by Eric Puybaret, in offering visuals that are more fanciful than informational, but also complements it with a focus less on the early life of the explorer and eco-activist than on his later inventions and achievements. In full-bleed scenes that are often segmented and kaleidoscopic, Yaccarino sets his hook-nosed subject amid shoals of Impressionistic fish and other marine images, rendered in multiple layers of thinly applied, imaginatively colored paint. His customarily sharp, geometric lines take on the wavy translucence of undersea shapes with a little bit of help from the airbrush. Along with tracing Cousteau’s undersea career from his first, life-changing, pair of goggles and the later aqualung to his minisub Sea Flea, the author pays tribute to his revolutionary film and TV work, and his later efforts to call attention to the effects of pollution. Cousteau’s enduring fascination with the sea comes through clearly, and can’t help sparking similar feelings in readers. (chronology, source list) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85573-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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