An inspired and creative ode to the inimitable Joni Mitchell.

JONI

THE LYRICAL LIFE OF JONI MITCHELL

This biographical introduction to iconic songwriter Joni Mitchell traces the creative influences in her life.

Growing up on the Canadian prairie, Mitchell was a “restless girl” who “danced in wide-open spaces,” learned bird calls from her mother, painted on her bedroom wall, composed melodies on the piano, and often felt “like an upside-down bird on a wire.” Encouraged by a teacher in junior high school to write poetry, Mitchell bought a guitar, briefly attended art school in Calgary, started composing music and singing in Toronto, suffered an unhappy marriage, performed in Greenwich Village with contemporary folk singers, and eventually became a “very famous singer.” Influenced by the world around and within her, Mitchell “painted with words,” turning her words and feelings into songs that poignantly captured her time’s sadness, beauty, love, hope, and yearning for freedom, and Alko’s poetic text and vibrant illustrations effectively convey this. Mixing media that include acrylic paint, found objects, and wildflowers, the double-page spreads (reminiscent of Chagall’s dreamlike paintings) reveal an intense, impassioned Mitchell in various venues as she moves through the stages of her life, singing her sorrow and painting her joy, appropriately surrounded by a kaleidoscope of exuberant swirling colors, images, and lyrics from her best-known songs.

An inspired and creative ode to the inimitable Joni Mitchell. (author’s note, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-267129-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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