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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter


The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet