A well-made story and a welcome, timely reminder of what true courage is.

BARTALI'S BICYCLE

THE TRUE STORY OF GINO BARTALI, ITALY'S SECRET HERO

The story of an Italian cyclist whose work with the Resistance in World War II earned him the designation of “Righteous Among Nations” from Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Center.

Gino Bartali was a professional cyclist and had already won the prestigious Tour de France when World War II broke out. Dismayed by the rhetoric and aggression against Jews (and he counted many Jews as his close friends), Bartali made the decision to work for the Resistance, hiding fake identity papers in the hollow handlebars of his bicycle and, on his training rides, delivering them to families in danger. He also used his celebrity to create disturbances at train stations—distracting the soldiers so families being deported could board other trains—and even hid a close friend’s family in his basement. Afterward, Bartali never spoke about it, saying “Good is something you do, not something you talk about.” The text does a good job of relaying Bartali’s actions and his role-model courage, but the illustrations really set this picture book apart. Each one is an overall accomplished design in the mode of early cycling posters that brings readers’ eyes in, around, and to the page turn. The use of highlights and shadows to both delineate objects and to evoke mood and atmosphere is masterful. Bicycle details are accurate to the time period, as is Bartali’s cycling kit—a welcome attention to detail that enhances the story’s authenticity. A note from Bartali’s granddaughter appears in the backmatter.

A well-made story and a welcome, timely reminder of what true courage is. (timeline, author’s note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-290811-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining.

DR. SEUSS'S HORSE MUSEUM

A succinct introduction to art history via a Seussian museum of equine art.

This posthumously published text recently discovered in Ted Geisel’s studio uses horse-focused art pieces to provide historical context to artistic movements. Showing art ranging from the Lascaux cave paintings to an untitled 1994 sculpture by Deborah Butterfield, Joyner’s playful illustrations surround the curated photographs of art pieces. By using horses as the departing point in the artistic journey, Seuss and Joyner are able to introduce diverse perspectives, artifacts, and media, including Harnessed Horse from the northern Wei dynasty, a Navajo pictorial blanket titled Oh, My Beautiful Horses, and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge. Questions to readers prompt thought about the artistic concepts introduced, aided by a cast of diverse museumgoers who demonstrate the art terms in action. Joyner further engages readers by illustrating both general cultural and Seussian references. Glimpses of the Cat in the Hat are seen throughout the book; he poses as a silent observer, genially guarding Seuss’ legacy. For art enthusiasts, some illustrations become an inside joke, as references to artists such as Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Marina Abramovic, and René Magritte make appearances. Thorough backmatter contains notes on each art piece referenced along with a study of the manuscript’s history and Seuss’ artistic style. Absent, probably unsurprisingly, is any acknowledgment of the Cat’s antecedents in minstrelsy and Seuss’ other racist work, but prominent among the museumgoers are black- and Asian-presenting characters as well as a girl wearing hijab and a child who uses a wheelchair.

A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55912-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An important and inspiring tale well told.

CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER

This biography of the “father of Black History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson, highlights experiences that shaped his passion.

Carter was born after the Civil War, but his parents had been slaves, and he grew up hearing the stories of their lives. With six siblings, Carter experienced lean times as a boy. Carter’s father, who couldn’t read or write, had Carter read the newspaper aloud. As a teenager, Carter had to work to help his family. In the coal mines, he met Oliver Jones, a Civil War veteran who opened his small home to the other men as a reading room. There, Carter once again took on the role of reader, informing Oliver and his friends of what was in the paper—and then researching to tell them more. After three years in the mines, he moved home to continue his education, eventually earning a Ph.D. from Harvard, where a professor challenged him to prove that his people had a history. In 1926 he established Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month. Hopkinson skillfully shapes Carter’s childhood, family history, and formative experiences into a cohesive story. The soft curves and natural palette of Tate’s illustrations render potentially scary episodes manageable for young readers, and portraits of historical figures offer an opening to further discovery. The incorporation of newsprint into many page backgrounds artfully echoes the title, and the inclusion of notable figures from black history reinforces the theme (a key is in the backmatter).

An important and inspiring tale well told. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, resources, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56145-934-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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