THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD

LOUIS CYR

An air of Gallic melancholy tinges this graphic-style, fictionalized memoir. Cyr, a Québécois circus performer of the late-19th century, whose feats of strength still are seldom equaled, looks back from the twilight of his career to the training and encouragement received as a child from a stern grandfather, and then the rise to worldwide fame for such exploits as lifting massive rocks, a draft horse and even a platform holding no fewer than 18 audience volunteers. Rendered in subdued browns, the small but legible panels depict a bulky, gentle man with downcast eyes, surpassing rivals and wowing crowds but always looking as if his mind were elsewhere. From Cyr’s commentary, readers will come to understand that there was technique as well as strength in his art, and the author closes with a value-added thumbnail history, with photos, of Cyr and of sideshow acts in general. A memorable glimpse into the life of a different sort of athlete. (Graphic nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-88899-731-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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