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Bright folk-art–inspired illustrations accompany a lucid account of the great man’s life. The straight narrative is a little wordier than most picture-book biographies, which allows for an impressive amount of detail to be packed in; the text flows well enough, however, that it is not burdensome for the audience. The chronological account folds Ben’s many activities in as they happened as much as possible, with just enough backing and filling to keep the reader on track. McDonough includes both the admirable—Franklin refused to patent his lightning rod, instead making the designs available to all—and the less-than-admirable—“Ben had a son, William, whose mother was never named”—with equal straightforwardness. The highly saturated illustrations are dominated by the primary colors, page borders picking up one color to frame all—a pleasing design choice. Zeldis’s plain primitive style suits the subject to a T, although her decision to color noses a distinct reddish-pink has the unfortunate effect of making Franklin look like a drunk from boyhood forward. As one of what is sure to be many this year, this offering stands as an additional purchase. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8050-7856-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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In first-person voice, Aldrin highlights points from his childhood that led to his dream of being an astronaut and making the historic moon landing. Coincidental details like his mother’s maiden name, “Moon,” and his favorite movie hero, the “Lone Ranger,” suggest clues to his destiny. After West Point, he joined the Air Force because “he wanted to fly more than anything.” Minor’s usual beautiful and realistic illustrations effectively convey spatial perspectives and movement, adding depth to the narrative. However, the cover design and type layout are confusing, indicative of a biography instead of an autobiography—a brief intro could have clarified it. Aldrin’s message in an author’s note avows, “If you set your sights high, you may accomplish more than you ever dreamed.” Pair this with Don Brown’s One Giant Step for a child’s-eye view on space exploration. (Flight/space exploration chronology) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-055445-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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Spinning lively invented details around skimpy historical records, Taylor profiles the 19th-century chef credited with inventing the potato chip. Crum, thought to be of mixed Native-American and African-American ancestry, was a lover of the outdoors, who turned cooking skills learned from a French hunter into a kitchen job at an upscale resort in New York state. As the story goes, he fried up the first batch of chips in a fit of pique after a diner complained that his French fries were cut too thickly. Morrison’s schoolroom, kitchen and restaurant scenes seem a little more integrated than would have been likely in the 1850s, but his sinuous figures slide through them with exaggerated elegance, adding a theatrical energy as delicious as the snack food they celebrate. The author leaves Crum presiding over a restaurant (also integrated) of his own, closes with a note separating fact from fiction and also lists her sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58430-255-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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