Next book



Despite excellent illustrations, does not do its subject’s complexity justice.

A child’s introduction to Keith Haring.

Outlining the artistic career of an iconic neo-expressionist is hardly a black-and-white endeavor, and paring down Haring’s legacy for children over 30 years after an early and complicated death is a task in itself. Unfortunately, this effort fails to deliver an in-depth or unique look at his life or his art, instead reducing both to a repetitive and uninspired mantra: “Art is life. Life is art.” Beginning with Haring's hildhood in Pennsylvania and continuing through his life in 1980s New York City, author Brown provides a well-paced but conservative biography, with almost no personal details or thoughtful analysis of his work. Within its limitations, it succeeds well enough. The text is punctuated with a number of choice vocabulary words, good for inquisitive young readers at a variety of levels, and bookended with enough context for understanding. The book is truly carried, however, by Negley’s vibrant and (appropriately) semiabstract illustrations. The pages burst with lively pops of color, friendly faces in a diverse palette—Haring is White—and, naturally, an endless stream of squiggly lines and dancing figures. Altogether, it’s a decent starting point for youngsters interested in drawing on the walls, but a noticeable lack of nuance leaves something to be desired. Matthew Burgess and Josh Cochran’s Drawing on Walls (2020) paints a far fuller picture.

Despite excellent illustrations, does not do its subject’s complexity justice. (author's note, illustrator's note, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30424-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Next book



Like a concerto for the heart.

Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño performs for President Abraham Lincoln amid a raging Civil War in Engle and López’s portrait of an artist.

Thanks to parental encouragement, Teresita learned about “all the beautiful / dark and light keys / of a piano” at an early age. By the age of 6, she composed original songs. Revolución in Venezuela soon drove an 8-year-old Teresa and her family to sail across the stormy sea to the United States, but the Carreño family arrived only to find another violent conflict—“the horrible Civil War”—in their adopted country. Despite the initial alienation that comes from being in an unfamiliar country, Teresita continued to improve and play “graceful waltzes and sonatas, / booming symphonies, and lively folk songs.” The Piano Girl’s reputation spread far, eventually garnering the attention of Lincoln, who invited the 10-year-old to perform at the White House! Yet the Civil War festered on, tormenting Teresita, who wished to alleviate the president’s burdens for at least one night. “How could music soothe / so much trouble?” Half biographical sketch, half wide-eyed tribute, Engle and López’s collaboration endearingly builds to Teresa’s fateful meeting with Lincoln like a gravitational pull, with bursts of compassion and admiration for both artist and public servant. Engle’s free verse whirls and twirls, playful and vivacious, while López’s vivid, colorful artwork elevates this story to heavenly heights.

Like a concerto for the heart. (historical note) (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8740-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Next book


An age-appropriate introduction to a civil rights icon.

A brief biography of labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta.

Huerta’s life is presented in simple, short statements—one fact per double-page spread—in both English and Spanish. Some facts need no further elaboration, such as where she grew up or extracurricular activities she enjoyed as a child. The unelaborated statement that “while at school, she faced many troubles. Once, a teacher accused her of not doing her own school work” will leave readers wondering what were her troubles and why her honesty was questioned. The book goes on to tell how she got started as a civil rights activist; her partnering with Cesar Chavez; the grape strike that eventually led to improved working conditions for farmworkers; and the recognition she received for her work in 2011, when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And of course, there is a spread with Huerta shouting through a megaphone the now famous slogan “¡Sí se puede! Yes, you can!” It is no easy task to reduce a complex and influential life to just a few statements that can convey the essentials in a meaningful and accessible way to very young readers. The creators have mostly done so, but adult guidance will still be required for concepts such as discrimination (unnamed but indicated), union, and strike. Sweet, color-saturated illustrations in earthy tones accompany the text. Fittingly, most people depicted have brown skin.

An age-appropriate introduction to a civil rights icon. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947971-58-5

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Lil' Libros

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

Close Quickview