Readers will scurry to collage household and backyard tidbits; pair this with Ehlert’s other work for maximum satisfaction.

READ REVIEW

THE SCRAPS BOOK

NOTES FROM A COLORFUL LIFE

Scraps—of art supplies, of finished illustrations, of techniques and of memory—overlap in this blend of memoir and artistic how-to.

Right from the start, Ehlert decorates each page with collages of more than one material. Photos of gleaming scissors sit near a baby photo of herself with her mother, the text listing the “fabric scraps, buttons, lace, ribbons, and many scissors” that her mother shared with her. Photos of paint brushes, every bristle temptingly visible, overlap a childhood photo with her father, who shared wood scraps and taught her about painting, sawing and pounding nails. A photo of her parents “after hunting for wild asparagus” pairs with painted, collaged asparagus from Eating the Alphabet (1989). Tackling common questions, she frames art as eminently doable. (Where does she get her ideas? Mostly from the natural world: “On a trip to the aquarium, while I watched colorful fish swim by, a book idea swam into my brain.”) Some technical terms become clear by visual example; others require outside explanation (dummy book; “[m]echanical sketch showing die cut overlays”). Highlights include a line sketch of the iconic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom next to color swatches and final shapes and all the thumbnails—plus two text versions—of Feathers for Lunch (1990).

Readers will scurry to collage household and backyard tidbits; pair this with Ehlert’s other work for maximum satisfaction. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3571-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“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 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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