A natural lead-in, or better, lagniappe, to Kathleen Krull’s Lives of the Writers (1994, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt)

READ REVIEW

THE PREHISTORIC MASTERS OF LITERATURE

From the Jurassic Classics series

From the Brontësaurus Sisters to Mark Twainceratops (“Born Samuel ‘Three-Horn’ Clemens”), a canon-expanding gallery of great writers that will have every reader, dinophile or not, roaring.

For this first in a projected series, Lacey pairs profiles of six renowned white human authors with as many mostly green but similarly named and (to younger audiences, at least) ancient creators of “dinosaur dramas, prehistoric poems, and timeless fossils of fiction.” For both sets she offers cogent comments on their lives and art—“Having invented over 1,578 grunts, growls, and snorts, Shakespeareasaurus’ talent for wordplay is unequaled”—plus, in small, attached booklets, a hilariously condensed representative work for each. “ROMEO: But soft! There squats my fairest maiden! / See how she slumps her cheek upon her claw?” Following each reptilian profile is a double-page spread that presents its corresponding human. Isik missteps in casting both Catherine and Heathcliff as theropods despite clear indications in the narrative that she’s a brontosaurus and he a velociraptor. Aside from this, her cartoon portraits of popeyed authors and characters in, mostly, antique dress add appropriate notes of anti-gravitas. Whether or not some of the riffs pass over their heads, readers will come away with a fund of names, titles, and general expectations that will serve them well in future encounters with literary works that have, or perhaps will, “echo[ed] across the millennia.”

A natural lead-in, or better, lagniappe, to Kathleen Krull’s Lives of the Writers (1994, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt) . (Informational novelty. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-098-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so.

SMALL WONDERS

JEAN-HENRI FABRE AND HIS WORLD OF INSECTS

The rewards of simply taking time to bend down for a closer look are celebrated in this tribute to the great French entomologist.

Seeing as a lad that “every patch of dirt and tangle of weeds buzzed with insects: dazzling beetles, ferocious wasps, sweet-singing crickets, and more,” young Fabre went on to devote a long life to watching common insects rather than just collecting dead specimens as most of his contemporary colleagues did. The distinctive, enduring affection with which he regarded his diminutive subjects regardless of their often savage behavior comes through clearly here, both in Smith’s warm narrative and Ferri’s equally engaging views of the naturalist. He delightedly discovers a shimmering hoplia beetle beneath a leaf, smiles from his sickbed as a handful of hibernating bees revives after his son carries them indoors, and is wonderstruck by an account of how Cerceris wasps paralyze beetles as live food for offspring. (The illustrator has a little fun with viewers by adding a looming insectile shadow as well as close-up views of hovering wasps in this last scene.) Fabre’s many original discoveries and insights won him renown, and though he is largely unknown to nonspecialists today, his nose-to-nose approach to the natural world is well worth commemorating to modern readers.

Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so. (historical note, timeline, author’s note, annotated source list) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2632-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY

A WRITER’S LIFE

Readers who have just discovered Anne Shirley of Green Gables and are wondering where she came from will find at least the beginnings of an answer in this fresh, frank picture-book biography. Montgomery comes across as a generous spirit, with both an independent streak and a strong sense of duty. MacLeod sketches both her public and private lives, pointing out real people, places, or incidents that appeared later in her books. She quotes income figures ($12,000 in 1914: as much as the Canadian Prime Minister) and describes, among other details, her youthful infatuation for one man, her secret engagement to another, and, years later, her long struggle to keep her husband's mental illness a secret. On every spread, montages of contemporary photos, portraits, book covers, quotes, memorabilia, manuscript pages, reviews, and film stills add a visual backdrop to this engaging glimpse of Canada's most famous author. A sketched figure of Maud points to important opinions or pieces of information. Montgomery's other books get a glance too, and there is a complete list at the end, along with lists of sites to visit, both in Canada and on the Web. A terrific format for an appealing subject. (index) (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55074-487-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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