MERMAID QUEEN

THE SPECTACULAR TRUE STORY OF ANNETTE KELLERMAN, WHO SWAM HER WAY TO FAME, FORTUNE, & SWIMSUIT HISTORY

Little has been written about Annette Kellerman, the founder of water ballet and modernizer of the female swimsuit; Corey’s lively descriptions and powerful phrasing successfully fill this niche. Despite the societal restraints placed on women in the early 1900s, Kellerman became an accomplished Australian athlete and attempted to swim the English Channel. Combining athletic feats with artistic symmetry, she promoted her sport to girls abroad. She eventually revolutionized contemporary swimwear, though she faced criticism and even arrest for wearing her swimsuit, viewed as too risqué for American tastes. Text and art blend in their celebration of this spirited athlete. Typography varies to enhance emphasis: “Annette Kellerman loved to make waves [this last in swoopy script],” and dramatic quotations pepper the dynamic text. Digitally rendered art depicts Kellerman as a strong but feminine competitor; dark outlines display her graceful arms outstretched to greet her audience. Fotheringham’s bold, spiraling patterns resemble crashing water; both fiery and cool colors pay homage to this vibrant woman and her sport. (author’s, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-439-69835-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

JOE LOUIS, MY CHAMPION

One of the watershed moments in African-American history—the defeat of James Braddock at the hands of Joe Louis—is here given an earnest picture-book treatment. Despite his lack of athletic ability, Sammy wants desperately to be a great boxer, like his hero, getting boxing lessons from his friend Ernie in exchange for help with schoolwork. However hard he tries, though, Sammy just can’t box, and his father comforts him, reminding him that he doesn’t need to box: Joe Louis has shown him that he “can be the champion at anything [he] want[s].” The high point of this offering is the big fight itself, everyone crowded around the radio in Mister Jake’s general store, the imagined fight scenes played out in soft-edged sepia frames. The main story, however, is so bent on providing Sammy and the reader with object lessons that all subtlety is lost, as Mister Jake, Sammy’s father, and even Ernie hammer home the message. Both text and oil-on-canvas-paper illustrations go for the obvious angle, making the effort as a whole worthy, but just a little too heavy-handed. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-58430-161-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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