From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016


Casey Jones, the King of the Iron Horse when the railroads ruled the land, gets polished to a hero's gleam in Drummond's rhymed telling of the stormy night he died. It was a hundred years ago that Casey pulled into the station aboard his Illinois 638, there to get the message from the company to point his train south to Memphis. As the train gets fired up to move through the wild, rain-lashed night, Drummond gives readers a vest-pocket history on the importance of the railroad in binding the nation together (and not incidentally in destroying the Native American way of life; be prepared to do some explaining to young readers here). Once out of town, Casey opens her up: "The train was full of people / from all down the line— / mothers and children / all asleep at the time— / and the milk and the mailbags / from all over the state, / and everyone knew they were / running late." Don't stop to quibble that Casey is being reckless by flying through the dark—“Casey Jones, / he'd never been late"—just be thankful that when he finally sees the flagman alerting him to a stalled freight train around the bend, he manages to save everybody aboard, except himself. You can hear the banjos pickin' in the background to Drummond's verse, which keeps the rhythm of the well-known folk song. His line-and-wash artwork is a transporting thing of beauty, mixing pages of multiple vignettes with double-paged spreads. Sometimes the text is handwritten; sometimes it's typed in the clouds. The variety adds to the bustle. An author's note explaining what little is known of the real Casey rounds out the book. "Wooo . . . oooh!" (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-31175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001



Not essential but a handsome tribute.

For children who can read And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street without help, an account of its creator’s life and career.

Klimo teams up with the illustrators of Kathleen Krull’s The Boy on Fairfield Street (2004) to tell the same tale in (somewhat) simpler language. Opening with the news of his Pulitzer Prize win—“Not bad for a lifelong doodler!”—she follows “Ted” from birth on. It’s a lightweight chronicle that includes his youth and early career as a cartoonist, his personal and public lives, his major picture-book successes and breakthrough easy readers, and his work as the publisher of the Beginner Books imprint. Johnson and Fancher incorporate actual Seussian artwork into their golden-toned paintings, including some commercial work but not, happily, the now-discomfiting racial caricatures he drew during World War II when, as the author diplomatically puts it, he “poked fun at Hitler and Japan.” Along with views of the man himself at various ages, the illustrators include racially diverse groups of children and (something of a stretch) publishers raptly reading or listening. There is no bibliography, and the recent string of posthumous publications goes unmentioned. Still, newly independent readers will come away with a picture of the creative genius behind the Cat, the Grinch, and all that incomparable wordplay.

Not essential but a handsome tribute. (Early reader/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93551-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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