From the She Made History series

From pompoms to Ph.D.!

Mireya Mayor, a Cuban American primatologist who grew up in Miami, was interested in wild animals from a young age—her childhood home teemed with animals, from dogs to snapping turtles to a chicken and everything in between. Although her interest in nature hit a speed bump when her mother sent her to ballet class instead of letting her join the Girl Scouts, Mireya discovered a talent for dance that led to her becoming an NFL cheerleader while she attended college. Her desire to work with animals—particularly primates—led her to international fieldwork in the jungles of South America as well as struggles with colleagues who judged Mireya based on her looks and not her accomplishments. Her continued work in far-off places caught the attention of National Geographic, which made her its first woman wildlife TV reporter, and on an expedition to Madagascar, Mireya discovered a new species of lemur. With this discovery, Mireya successfully petitioned the prime minister of Madagascar to create a national park to ensure the lemur’s survival. The story effectively documents Mireya’s career path, and attentive readers and caregivers will have moments to consider themes of prejudice and how everyone has unlimited capability for divergent interests. The backmatter, which contains additional information about mouse lemurs and the lemur reserve and an author’s note with more details about Mireya’s career path, including how she obtained her doctorate, will help direct curious readers to learn more. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pleasing and stimulating. (glossary, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4085-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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Blandly laudatory.


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

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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