A stellar biography, as creepy and fun as its subject.



The story of Edward Gorey and his creepy “brand of silliness.”

“In 1925, a boy was born / in Chicago / who loved words / and pictures, too. / A brilliant boy, / An only boy.” That boy was Edward Gorey, “And oh, did he read! / He gobbled up adventures / and mysteries. / Comics and poetry. / The entire works / of French novelist / Victor Hugo, / for goodness’ sake.” The strange combination of whimsy and gruesomeness he found when reading Alice in Wonderland and Dracula one after the other when he was young is what he became famous for in his own books. Mortensen’s poetic text with spare rhythmic lines perfectly complements Bristol’s illustrations, which echo Gorey’s stylistically but bring color to the tale of an artist known for his “seas of black sketchy lines” rendered in pen and ink. Together, the text and illustrations brilliantly evoke the world of Edward Gorey’s books, providing young readers with just enough to know what Gorey was all about, even plaiting in key lines from The Gashlycrumb Tinies to prime the pump. A thorough author’s note fleshes out Gorey’s life, ending with a note about how his “sweet and sinister” style is seen nowadays in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

A stellar biography, as creepy and fun as its subject. (sources) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-03368-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.


The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.


The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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