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An uplifting ode to persistence.

An Indian American polio survivor explains how in 2013 she became the first female wheelchair athlete to complete an Ironman World Championship.

Born in a village near Mumbai, Dentler contracted polio before her first birthday; her legs were paralyzed. Unable to afford her care, Dentler’s loving single mother put her up for adoption. Adopted by an American couple, Dentler moved to Spokane, Washington. She endured multiple surgeries, and her adoptive parents encouraged her to achieve seemingly impossible goals, such as learning to walk with crutches and leg braces: “You can do it...Just figure it out.” But classmates sometimes excluded and taunted her because of her mobility aids and dark skin. Undaunted, Dentler grew up to accomplish much, including backpacking solo through Europe and becoming a White House intern. But ultimately, she wanted to be an athlete. After practicing handcycling, she competed in the New York City Marathon and, feeling “unstoppable,” set her sights on triathlons. Dentler tackled difficulties, such as learning to swim and adjusting to a racing wheelchair. She follows disappointments, such as being disqualified at her first Ironman attempt, with refreshingly concrete details of how she trained harder and, above all, believed in herself, punctuated by the refrain: “Just figure it out.” Ultimately, she completed an Ironman in Kona, Hawaii, swimming, biking, and running 140.6 miles. Dehennin depicts Dentler’s endeavors with bright hues and vivid expressions; fluid curves impart a sense of motion.

An uplifting ode to persistence. (author’s note, information about polio and wheelchair sports) (Picture-book memoir. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276533

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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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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