A moderate success.

Small children learning and playing are juxtaposed with adults changing history.

Children say first words, take first steps, stack blocks, and write the alphabet. Older people walk on the moon, build historic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, and write letters to the president to effect change. Children jump and leap and sing, adults record “We Are the World” to benefit world hunger, and Misty Copeland becomes the American Ballet Theater’s first African American principal ballerina. The children’s activities are narrated in a simple first-person-plural voice, easy to read aloud with little ones. The corresponding historical events and profiles are written in a more expository style better suited for older readers. While both storylines are worth reading, the combination makes the read-aloud experience less than smooth, although creative workarounds (like having children read the children’s parts and adults read the nonfiction parts) are possible. The adult achievements celebrated are progressive and diverse: Colin Kaepernick’s protest, Brazil’s Pride parade, Native American Code Talkers, and the AIDS Memorial Quilt are included, along with the Wright brothers, female Supreme Court justices, Mister Rogers, and the moon landing. Ali’s joyful illustrations successfully convey continuity between the children’s activities and the actions that changed history, infusing the narrative with an energy the text sorely needs to carry readers through. Endnotes provide further details about the events and individuals mentioned in the text. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 69.4% of actual size.)

A moderate success. (timeline, notes, bibliography, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291685-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021


A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017


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

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