Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to...

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THE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS

A spare recounting of Philippe Petit’s daring 1974 wire walk between the Twin Towers depicts him as a street performer who defies authority to risk his feat, is arrested, and then sentenced to perform for the children of New York.

At the conclusion, on the only non-illustrated page are the stark words, “Now the towers are gone,” followed by the changed skyline and finally by a skyline on which are etched the ghost-like shapes of the towers as memory of the buildings and of Petit’s exploit. At the heart are the spreads of Petit on the narrow wire, so far above the city that Earth’s curve is visible. Two ingenious gatefolds draw readers’ eyes into the vertiginous sweep of wirewalker—sky and city below. Unparalleled use of perspective and line—architectural verticals opposed to the curve of wires and earth—underscore disequilibrium and freedom. In a story that’s all about balance, the illustrations display it exquisitely in composition.

Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to extraordinary buildings and a remarkable man. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 978-0-7613-1791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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ACTION JACKSON

Art history specialists Greenberg and Jordan (Boston Globe/Horn Book–winning Chuck Close, Up Close, 1998; Sibert Honor–winning Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of An Artist, 2001) have again pushed the nonfiction envelope with this astonishing biography cum evocation of action painter and abstract expressionist icon Jackson Pollock. Dubbed “Action Jackson”—or sometimes even “Jack the Dripper”—by critics and admirers alike, Pollock is an acknowledged reference point for all late-20th-century painters. His influence has captivated the likes of illustrators Norman Rockwell and Ian Falconer and even actor-directors like Ed Harris. How to parse a painter like Pollock? In a stroke of expository genius, they focus on a semi-imagined account of an intense period in Pollock's life—May through June 1950. The brief frenzy of work that produced the transcendent and transformational painting “Number 1, 1950” known as “Lavender Mist.” Greenberg and Johnson make strategic use of contemporaneous accounts and press sources including Hans Namuth’s photos and documentary film. The book’s back matter includes the terrifically interesting and surprisingly complete two pages of notes and sources. A perfect little biographical essay offers all the needed details including this poignant passage, a discreet but unsparing observation that: “Jackson struggled with alcoholism and depression for most of his adult life. When he was sober, he painted well, but when he was drinking he felt discouraged and temperamental.” In tandem with this, it is hard to convey the equally astonishing strength of Parker’s illustrations. A widely exhibited watercolorist of considerable renown (winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Cold Feet, 2000), Parker shows us both the mood and sensibility of the painter while he demonstrates the how of Pollock’s technique. His semi-realistic and pleasingly spiky India Ink drawings are heightened with expansive gloriously transparent watercolor washes in palette that often subtly reflect the colors and values of Pollock’s “Lavender Mist.” Parker evokes Pollock’s painting with his own painter’s hand. He masterfully conveys painting as an active dance of form and color. This stunning collaboration is both a tour de force and an uncommon pleasure. (Picture book/biography. 6+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7613-2770-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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THE FANTASTIC UNDERSEA LIFE OF JACQUES COUSTEAU

This second early biography of Cousteau in a year echoes Jennifer Berne’s Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau (2008), illustrated by Eric Puybaret, in offering visuals that are more fanciful than informational, but also complements it with a focus less on the early life of the explorer and eco-activist than on his later inventions and achievements. In full-bleed scenes that are often segmented and kaleidoscopic, Yaccarino sets his hook-nosed subject amid shoals of Impressionistic fish and other marine images, rendered in multiple layers of thinly applied, imaginatively colored paint. His customarily sharp, geometric lines take on the wavy translucence of undersea shapes with a little bit of help from the airbrush. Along with tracing Cousteau’s undersea career from his first, life-changing, pair of goggles and the later aqualung to his minisub Sea Flea, the author pays tribute to his revolutionary film and TV work, and his later efforts to call attention to the effects of pollution. Cousteau’s enduring fascination with the sea comes through clearly, and can’t help sparking similar feelings in readers. (chronology, source list) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85573-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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