A strong, unusual addition to the biography shelf.



Cyprien-Noé Cyr was born to a poor farming family in a small Quebec village that had no idea one of their own would one day attain worldwide fame.

As Cyprien-Noé grew, Grandpa Pierre took him to Mr. Trudeau’s blacksmith shop. Not only was Mr. Trudeau strong enough to hammer red-hot horseshoes into shape, he could also lift the heavy iron anvil. These feats inspired Cyprien-Noé to become as strong as Mr. Trudeau. When he was a teen, the family’s finances forced them to move to Lowell, Massachusetts. In hopes of helping him assimilate, Cyprien-Noé’s parents changed his name to Louis as they settled in their new life. There, Louis and his father found work at a textile mill where Louis proved his worth by lifting boxes of cotton that weighed almost 200 pounds. Soon, many men challenged Louis’ strength, though none could best him. After catching the attention of a coach, Louis’ career as a weight lifter took off, and he won championship after championship in Canada, the United States, and in Europe, ultimately earning the title the Strongest Man in the World. Papineau’s simple text shares interesting details about Louis Cyr’s fascinating life in an accessible text punctuated by well-chosen details. Hamel’s whimsical illustrations have a matte, folk-art look that suits her rough-hewn subject, surrounding him with a largely white though socio-economically diverse cast. There are no source notes or bibliography, but the cover unfolds to reveal a timeline and a poster with archival photos—alas, this will be unavailable to children checking the book out of the library.

A strong, unusual addition to the biography shelf. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-2-7338-4614-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.


After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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