SAM PATCH

DAREDEVIL JUMPER

Sam Patch was a real person who found fame (and an early death) by jumping from dangerous heights. Here he receives renewed attention in this odd, lively tale. Finding the prospect of working in the mills unappealing, Sam turned to jumping from the falls that powered them in town after town—and even Niagara—ultimately perishing as he tried to one-up himself at a falls near Rochester, N.Y. The fact that Sam once pushed a pet bear into the river before jumping in himself may give animal lovers pause, but in general the details that Cummins highlights should help readers picture Sam’s early 19th-century world. Austin’s illustrations likewise are appropriately energetic. Exaggerated features and odd perspectives emphasize Sam’s lanky frame and the daring heights to which he aspired. The abrupt and anticlimactic end, however, may cause readers to wonder what the book is trying to say. Sam’s story proves that people have long been fascinated by those who willingly risk harm—but that is hardly news. This brief biography of one particular historical daredevil seems poorly suited to the picture-book format and audience. (notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1741-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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

Close Quickview