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Uplifting and stirring.

An account of Judith Heumann’s fight for equal rights for herself and others with disabilities.

As a child in the early 1950s, Judy loved books. But the principal of the first school her mother signed her up for declared her and her wheelchair a “fire hazard,” and the Jewish Day School’s principal refused her even after she learned Hebrew. When she was finally permitted to attend public school in fourth grade, the segregated disabled students “weren’t expected to learn much of anything at all.” Faced with prejudiced attitudes and inaccessible spaces, Judy “heard the word NO much too often” growing up. But after winning a legal battle against the New York City Board of Education to become a teacher, Judy joined disabled friends in advocating for disability rights. She and fellow activists petitioned the government to pass Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act—to ensure sidewalk ramps and bus lifts were installed and to make sure that buildings were wheelchair accessible—and finally, in 1977, after nationwide demonstrations, including a grueling 24-day sit-in at a San Francisco federal building, they succeeded. Cocca-Leffler’s straightforward text relates Judy’s challenges and triumphs, while Mildenberger’s muted illustrations adequately if somewhat blurrily convey Judy’s sadness, determination, and joy. An author’s note provides more information on Heumann as well as background on Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a note from Heumann asks, “How will you start fighting for YES?” Judy presents White; background figures are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Uplifting and stirring. (sources, notes) (Picture-book biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5560-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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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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