It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Sad, sublime, and surely something special.

THE WORLD'S LONELIEST ELEPHANT

BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF KAAVAN AND HIS RESCUE

No creature should be locked up for life.

After then-President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (who is unnamed in the text) arranged for the delivery of an elephant to Pakistan in the mid-1980s, the year-old calf, Kaavan, was kept chained in the Marghazar Zoo for 35 years. For 22 of those years, Kaavan was kept with Saheli, a female elephant, but after her death, Kaavan was left alone. Thankfully, there is a happy ending to the tale, as concerned people around the world—including Egyptian veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil and pop star Cher—raised awareness of Kaavan’s miserable and lonely life, and he was eventually relocated to Cambodia’s Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, where he had more room and other elephants to socialize with. The story explores Kaavan and Dr. Khalil’s relationship and follows the journey to ensure that Kaavan would not be lonely anymore. The real star of this beautifully told story is the artwork, which deftly captures Kaavan’s pain. The illustrations—gouache and acrylic on wood—feature bands of grain below the painted surface that give a hazy beauty to the pages and a remarkable amount of texture to Kaavan’s skin. An author’s note and a brief list of sources provide additional information for curious readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sad, sublime, and surely something special. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-36459-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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