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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Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity.

HEAD TO HEAD

18 LINKED PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Renowned achievers go nose-to-nose on fold-out pages.

Mixing contemporary celebrities with historical figures, Corbineau pairs off his gallery of full-page portraits by theme, the images all reworked from photos or prints into cut-paper collages with highly saturated hues. Gandhi and Rosa Parks exemplify nonviolent protest; Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie are (mostly) commended for their work with impoverished people; and a “common point” between Gutenberg and Mark Zuckerberg is that both revolutionized the ways we communicate. The portraits, on opposite ends of gatefolds, open to reveal short biographies flanking explanatory essays. Women and people of color are distinctly underrepresented. There are a few surprises, such as guillotined French playwright Olympe de Gouges, linked for her feminism with actress Emma Watson; extreme free-fall jumper Felix Baumgartner, paired with fellow aerialist record-seeker Amelia Earhart; and Nelson Mandela’s co–freedom fighter Jean Moulin, a leader of the French Resistance. In another departure from the usual run of inspirational panegyrics, Cornabas slips in the occasional provocative claim, noting that many countries considered Mandela’s African National Congress a terrorist organization and that Mother Teresa, believing that suffering was “a gift from God,” rarely gave her patients painkillers. Although perhaps only some of these subjects “changed the world” in any significant sense, all come off as admirable—for their ambition, strength of character, and drive.

Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity. (map, timeline) (Collective biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6226-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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