Review of Tricky Vic

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Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the 
Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli; illus. by the author Intermediate   Viking   48 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01652-5   $17.99 Amidst the current plethora of picture-book biography role models, it’s nice to see a book about a con artist. “Ah, yes. But an artist all the same.” […]

Trailblazing women

demi_florence nightingale

Demi  Florence Nightingale Gr. K–3     40 pp.    Holt A straightforward text of declarative sentences describes Florence Nightingale’s childhood, training, service in Crimean War hospitals, and lifelong crusade to reform nursing and health care. The true draw of this clear picture book biography, however, is Demi’s simple line-drawn illustrations with collage elements: close reader attention will […]

Review of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; illus. by Anna Hymas Intermediate, Middle School   Dial   294 pp. 2/15   978-0-8037-4080-8   $16.99   g As a young boy growing up in Malawi, William Kamkwamba believed in — and was fearful of — magic. As he got a bit older, he […]

Review of Draw What You See

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Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson; illus. with paintings by Benny Andrews Primary, Intermediate   Clarion   32 pp. 1/15   978-0-544-10487-7   $16.99 Benson opens in New Orleans in 2005, where Benny Andrews traveled after Hurricane Katrina to teach children “to use art to express their feelings about what they […]

Review of Unbroken

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Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from 
Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand; 
adapted by the author Middle School, High School   Delacorte   292 pp. 11/14   978-0-385-74251-1   $19.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-99062-5   $22.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-307-97565-2   $10.99 With media attention focused on the July 2014 death of Louis Zamperini, and Angelina Jolie’s upcoming movie detailing his […]

Review of This Is Dalí, This Is Pollock, and This Is Warhol

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This Is Dalí by Catherine Ingram; 
illus. by Andrew Rae Middle School, High School     Laurence King/Chronicle     80 pp. 5/14    978-1-78067-109-3    $15.95         This Is Pollock by Catherine Ingram; 
illus. by Peter Arkle Middle School, High School    Laurence King/Chronicle    80 pp. 5/14    978-1-78067-346-2    $15.95         This Is Warhol by Catherine […]

Beyond biography

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With storytelling ease and pitch-perfect pacing, the following works of narrative nonfiction for older readers bring their subjects to brilliant life, elevating the sometimes-staid genre of biography to literary art form. Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming is so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. Born […]

Shout Science! app review

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Shout Science! (Scott Dubois, 2013) is a comic-style nonfiction app that tells three stories of figures from the European Scientific Revolution. The first biography follows Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717), a watercolor painter and insect collector in Frankfurt, Germany. Merian observed the life cycle of butterflies, including metamorphosis, and documented it in two books she wrote […]

The Horn Book reviews the Big Words Biographies

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Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport; illus. by Bryan Collier Primary     Jump at the Sun/Hyperion    40 pp. 9/01     0-7868-0714-8     $15.99 Library ed. 0-7868-2591-X     $16.49 This is one book you can judge by its cover. The space on the front jacket is entirely filled […]

Today’s Picture Book Biographies: Back Matter Matters

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Picture book biographies broke out of their formulaic cradle-to-grave structure in the late 1990s and began telling authentic stories with new verve. Fictionalized dialogue and made-up scenes gave way to well-researched, fact-based narratives, often focusing on a particular aspect of the subject’s life. Today’s picture book biographies also include, as a matter of course, supporting […]