A joyfully illustrated celebration of Brooks’ good and important work.

EXQUISITE

THE POETRY AND LIFE OF GWENDOLYN BROOKS

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks’ life is chronicled for young readers.

Growing up with a love for poetry that’s fed by her father’s recitations and her mother’s affirmations (“You are going to be the lady Paul Laurence Dunbar”), young Gwendolyn begins writing as early as 7. Poetry is everything to Gwendolyn, feeding her emotionally during the Great Depression and beyond. She writes by candlelight when the electricity is out and submits poems to publishers all over the country. Eventually they are published, but they don’t earn much—and then one day a phone call delivers joyous news: She is the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize! Slade’s uneven rhythms emulate Brooks’ but at times detract from a sense of textual cohesion; a superfluous explanation of the usage of “Black” in the author’s note feels awkward, as if seeking validation. On the other hand, Cabrera’s acrylic paint illustrations perfectly exemplify the title. Attention to detail, like the pink sponge roller in little Gwendolyn’s hair for a delightfully bumped bang and the dreamy bright pinks and blues of early spreads, with clocks and printed pages lining Gwendolyn’s imagination, adds a tangible depth to this story of her triumphs and challenges. Additional backmatter, including Brooks’ poem “Clouds,” a timeline, sources, and select bibliography, provides context and grounding for the airy book.

A joyfully illustrated celebration of Brooks’ good and important work. (Picture book/biography. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3411-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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