A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...

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IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING

A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

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

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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