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Krakow debuts with a first of its kind: a picture-book biography of an important gay-rights figure. Simply, yet naturally, she tells the story of the man who was “the first openly gay elected city official in the United States.” She begins with his childhood—he loved to be the center of attention—and follows his path through high school where he played sports and was a popular student, through the Navy and into a career as a teacher. Somewhere around the age of 14, he realized that he was gay. But as was typical of the time, he kept it a secret for many years, in fear of what would happen to him if people knew. A first relationship that lasted for six years finally broke apart because of the strain of the secret. His move to San Francisco finally freed him from the closet, and he became an active member of his community in the Castro, eventually running for office. Gardner’s sunny pictures occupy two-thirds of each page, depicting a usually smiling fellow happily engaged in being a part of the bigger world, eventually making “laws to ensure the quality of life for all people.” Approaching the end of the story, the illustrations as well as the text take on a darker, grayer mood until candles light the darkness as “the people of San Francisco wept.” Capturing just the right tone for its audience, this is a significant contribution to the genre and a fitting tribute to an ordinary guy turned extraordinary. (epilogue, author's notes, bibliography, Web sites) (Biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-9674468-3-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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In first-person voice, Aldrin highlights points from his childhood that led to his dream of being an astronaut and making the historic moon landing. Coincidental details like his mother’s maiden name, “Moon,” and his favorite movie hero, the “Lone Ranger,” suggest clues to his destiny. After West Point, he joined the Air Force because “he wanted to fly more than anything.” Minor’s usual beautiful and realistic illustrations effectively convey spatial perspectives and movement, adding depth to the narrative. However, the cover design and type layout are confusing, indicative of a biography instead of an autobiography—a brief intro could have clarified it. Aldrin’s message in an author’s note avows, “If you set your sights high, you may accomplish more than you ever dreamed.” Pair this with Don Brown’s One Giant Step for a child’s-eye view on space exploration. (Flight/space exploration chronology) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-055445-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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Spinning lively invented details around skimpy historical records, Taylor profiles the 19th-century chef credited with inventing the potato chip. Crum, thought to be of mixed Native-American and African-American ancestry, was a lover of the outdoors, who turned cooking skills learned from a French hunter into a kitchen job at an upscale resort in New York state. As the story goes, he fried up the first batch of chips in a fit of pique after a diner complained that his French fries were cut too thickly. Morrison’s schoolroom, kitchen and restaurant scenes seem a little more integrated than would have been likely in the 1850s, but his sinuous figures slide through them with exaggerated elegance, adding a theatrical energy as delicious as the snack food they celebrate. The author leaves Crum presiding over a restaurant (also integrated) of his own, closes with a note separating fact from fiction and also lists her sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58430-255-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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