Mendoza’s inspiring story is best understood through his eye-catching artwork, supplemented by the author’s note.

READ REVIEW

COLORS OF THE WIND

THE STORY OF BLIND ARTIST AND CHAMPION RUNNER GEORGE MENDOZA

Absorbing paintings carry this abbreviated story of George Mendoza, a blind runner and artist.

George Mendoza wants to play basketball when he grows up, but then he sees “the whole world painted red” and starts having headaches. A doctor tells him he is going blind, but he continues to see “flashing lights and brilliant colors”; a priest advises him to paint what he sees. Instead, Mendoza begins to run—so fast, writes Powers, that he goes to the Olympics twice, but she does not detail this feat. When his best friend dies, Mendoza finds purpose in painting (with brushes or fingers) his kaleidoscopic perception; these paintings appear throughout the book. His heavy, bold streaks and swirls of color depict key events, focusing his story in ways the short sentences supplemented by Morgan-Sanders’ minimalist line drawings cannot; it’s hard to look away from a swarm of blurry butterflies or a basketball hoop painted like a blazing eye. An author’s note provides greater (and more interesting) biographical detail, explaining how Mendoza went blind and specifying that he trained and placed in the Olympics for the Disabled in 1980 and 1984. It is too bad this information is not worked into the main text, since the author’s note is too complex for the younger audience to whom the main text caters.

Mendoza’s inspiring story is best understood through his eye-catching artwork, supplemented by the author’s note. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-930900-73-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Purple House

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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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

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