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A better-than-most addition to the Helen Keller children’s book canon.

Helen Keller’s life and achievements are recounted in rhyme.

Most people know the story of Keller learning the word water, but many don’t know about the life of activism she led after that. Pincus tells us about all the things Keller was—deaf-blind, yes, but also an author, activist, friend, and dog lover, among many other things. The didactic and earnest text is accompanied by chunky, colorful illustrations that offer more details for readers to find. Younger children can stick to the sometimes-awkward couplets (rhyming Helen with retellin’), while those who want to know more can read the explanatory paragraphs (rendered in a small font) on each page, and those who are really curious can read the additional information at the back of the book. It is difficult to bring a fresh perspective to Keller’s story, and the effort made here surpasses many others. In the backmatter, Pincus refers to Keller’s being a member of the Socialist Party, and there is an attempt to acknowledge the elephant in the room of Keller’s belief in eugenics (described too gently as “some theories now disregarded”). However, her friendship with Alexander Graham Bell (who argued that deaf people shouldn’t marry each other for fear of passing on deafness) is presented without comment, and her method of communication is described as “signing,” which is only technically true and implies a closer relationship to Deaf culture than she had. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A better-than-most addition to the Helen Keller children’s book canon. (author's note) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1151-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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