Those in love with ballet will find much to enjoy.

READ REVIEW

B IS FOR BALLET

A DANCE ALPHABET

From the American Ballet Theatre series

An introduction to the art for those in the know and those who are new.

In swirls of lilacs and blues, the 26 letters of the alphabet introduce readers to the enchanting world of American Ballet Theater as seen onstage, backstage, in rehearsal studios, and at school. Starting with A for “arabesque,” with the legendary Lucia Chase as the dancer, the letters move on through Natalia Makarova performing a “glissade” from Giselle and Misty Copeland in a very dramatic pose from the “modern masterwork” Firebird to Anthony Tudor and Twyla Tharp rehearsing their original choreography. Not all is graceful movement, however, as one dancer is seen soaking her feet in an “ice bath.” Children from ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School demonstrate the five basic positions of ballet while in other scenes, dancers stretch, warm-up, waltz, and perform their “révérence.” Most figures named in the captions are White, but African American dancers Copeland and Calvin Royal III, Argentine dancer Herman Cornejo, and Korean ballerina Hee Seo are also featured (all such are identified in the backmatter); the supporting cast is multiracial. Children in ballet school or attending a performance for the first time will enjoy the close-up views and the nice mix of former and current dancers. The couplets and quatrains read smoothly, and the illustrations are vibrant and lively, though characters’ faces are stylized and rather stiff. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.4% of actual size.)

Those in love with ballet will find much to enjoy. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-18094-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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