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HI, I'M NORMAN

THE STORY OF AMERICAN ILLUSTRATOR NORMAN ROCKWELL

An inviting and admiring introduction to an important American artist.

The iconic American illustrator welcomes readers into his home and life.

“Hi, I’m Norman. Norman Rockwell. Come on in.” The creator of over 320 covers for the Saturday Evening Post speaks directly to readers, inviting them into his studio and on to a tour of other studios in his life—his dining room when he was young, neighborhood streets, classroom blackboards, and art school. He tells how he sold his first works, how he got his ideas, and how he used models—adult, child, and even a turkey! Rockwell is known for painting the “ideal aspects” of life, “life like I’d like it to be,” he said, and he received criticism for being old-fashioned and nostalgic, but Burleigh’s Rockwell claims he did change to face the times he lived in. During World War II, he painted his iconic series “The Four Freedoms,” based on President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous speech. And after Ruby Bridges integrated an all-white public school in the 1960s, Rockwell painted the famous, enigmatically titled The Problem We All Live With. Minor uses watercolor, gouache, and pencil to effectively render many of Rockwell’s sketches and paintings and, except for Ruby Bridges, Rockwell’s all-white world.

An inviting and admiring introduction to an important American artist. (further biography, author’s note, illustrator’s note, list of paintings rendered, timeline, reproductions) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9670-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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