A portrait of a first lady who hoped to make America beautiful.

According to Lady Bird Johnson, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

Born into a wealthy, White family, Claudia Alta Taylor was shy and loved nature, which likely accounted for her nickname: Lady Bird, bestowed by the children of her Black nanny. Vivid, colorful, if stiffly posed illustrations and accessible text with well-chosen anecdotes (her future husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson, proposed to her on their first date) are accompanied by summarizing questions tied to the refrain “Lady Bird Johnson, that’s who!” The text describes how she struggled with shyness yet ran a company and managed the family finances, supported her husband’s political campaigns, and eventually became first lady of the United States. The relative limitations she faced are briefly mentioned: Women in the mid-20th century didn’t typically own businesses, and most first ladies didn’t work to support legislation. Overall, she is portrayed as a conservationist who tried to bring people together through her highway-beautification campaigns during a time when the American people were divided about the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. While her attempts can be seen as either visionary or superficial depending on the beholder, and other environmental advocates may have achieved more, children interested in the environment and climate change will easily see how her actions played a role in the history of environmentalism. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78.6% of actual size.)

A portrait of a first lady who hoped to make America beautiful. (notes, bibliography, acknowledgements) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-24036-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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