CARL SANDBURG

ADVENTURES OF A POET

A clever organization and nostalgic ink-and-watercolor illustrations cannot save this picture-book biography of one of the 20th century’s great men of letters. Eschewing a strictly chronological organization, this text instead juxtaposes a page of explicatory text about one aspect of Sandburg’s career against an illustration accompanied by an appropriate piece of Sandburg’s own writings. The spread covering “Carl’s” journalistic activities, for instance, features an excerpt from his essay on featuring Lincoln on the penny and a man-of-the people image of Lincoln with an axe. This organization serves the many talents and interests of its subject well, but sabotages it at the same time, as Niven’s narrative (rendered in an uncomfortably small typeface, given the format) pales by comparison to the vigor of Sandburg’s own writing. A timeline juxtaposing the events in Sandburg’s life against the historic changes in America during that same time is a nice feature, as are the notes on the illustrations. However, despite credits for Sandburg’s writings and many grateful acknowledgments, there is no indication of the written sources used for the primary text. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-204686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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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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