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A rousing tale about the rescuer of California’s famed desert.

One woman made a huge difference in keeping an extraordinary environment alive.

After Minerva Hoyt and her husband moved to Southern California in 1897, she became so enraptured by the Mojave Desert and its remarkable Joshua trees that she set out to preserve the desert’s unique, wild beauty and save it from depredation. To accomplish this goal, Minerva decided to bring the desert to the people. She reasoned that if the public could see the desert for themselves, they’d want to protect it, too. Minerva created large-scale, award-winning desert displays featuring native flora and stuffed fauna and brought them to New York, Boston, and London. Viewers were enchanted and agreed that the Mojave and its remarkable Joshua trees had to be protected. Minerva appealed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other public officials, and, at last, her efforts paid off, and her beloved desert was given national park status. Today, Joshua Tree National Park is a popular American landmark, and its plants and wildlife thrive. This is an admiring, well-written portrait of a woman who worked mightily to overcome indifference and a lack of knowledge and won out to the benefit of all. Quotes from Minerva and others appear throughout. Lively, colorful illustrations, created mostly in Acryla Gouache, as well as in colored pencil and collage, capture Minerva’s enthusiasm and desert scenes teeming with life.

A rousing tale about the rescuer of California’s famed desert. (more about Minerva, wildlife in Joshua Tree National Park, national parks of the USA, author’s note, tips for environmentalist activists, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781662680212

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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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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From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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