Will provide some inspiration for budding architects.

Late in his career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed one of the world’s most famous houses.

In 1934, Pittsburgh retail magnate Edgar Kaufmann hired Wright to build a house near the waterfalls of Bear Run, Pennsylvania. This book traces Wright’s steps through planning, construction, and successful completion of the unusual house nestled in a hillside. The illustrations echo the Japanese print style that inspired Wright’s design in spreads paced to underscore the tranquil setting. One vertical double-page spread emphasizes the height of the house jutting over the waterfalls. The book’s effectiveness, however, is marred by inconsistencies in text and illustration that seem to be a result of an attempt to appeal to both younger and older children. Languid prose alternates with short, choppy sentences throughout. For instance, the narrative recounts Wright’s dreams in stately free verse: “In dreaming this house he will use everything / he has ever seen: stone walls from Wisconsin, / sand and adobe from the Southwest, / towers and trellises from Italy.” His client’s desire for speed comes in jarringly clipped sentences: “Mr. Kaufmann calls. He is in Wisconsin. / He is coming to visit. / He wants to see the plans. / He will arrive in two hours. / He is coming to see his new house!” This, coupled with the flat, cartoonish depiction of some characters (mostly though not exclusively white), detracts from an otherwise pleasant book.

Will provide some inspiration for budding architects. (authors’ note, artist’s note, bibliography, notes) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59643-718-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017


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


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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