This sanitized treatment does a disservice to both subject and readers.

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KEITH HARING

THE BOY WHO JUST KEPT DRAWING

Artist Keith Haring draws and draws, from childhood to adulthood.

“There was a boy named Keith,” opens the text, showing him drawn with an orange outline, crawling, surrounded by the gleam lines that Haring later used around his famous Radiant Baby. As Haring grows to adulthood and renown, drawing constantly, Neubecker neatly incorporates Haring’s real pieces into these zesty, bustling, digital-and-pencil illustrations. From subway-station drawings chalked on black paper to acrylic paintings to murals, Haring’s work pops; Neubecker’s compositions and enthusiastic crowd scenes do it wonderful credit. The textual refrain (subtly offset in its own typeface) is that Haring never stops drawing—a passable theme, barely, but one that glaringly spotlights the themes that are missing. In a stunning erasure, author Haring (Keith’s sister) includes only non–AIDS-related art, activism, and philanthropy. Haring’s famous Silence=Death pieces (pink triangles crowded with bodies) and his absolutely iconic “Ignorance=Fear” poster—both of which complemented the work of pivotal AIDS activist group ACT UP—are nowhere to be found. The foundation he created to benefit underserved youth and AIDS organizations gets no mention until the second of two backmatter notes. Very young readers are better served by any of several available Keith Haring coloring books or board books; older readers deserve to know all his vital artistic, activist, and philanthropic achievements, including the ones related to AIDS.

This sanitized treatment does a disservice to both subject and readers. (author’s note, index of art works) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42819-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A resplendent masterpiece.

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DREAMERS

Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.

This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”

A resplendent masterpiece. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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