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Review of Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire

Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville; illus. by Brigette Barrager Primary    Atheneum    48 pp. 8/17    978-1-4814-6131-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6132-0    $10.99 From an early age, artist and designer Mary Blair (1911–1978) “collected colors of every shade and every hue.” In 1940, the […]

Review of Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm

Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm by Sue Macy; illus. by Matt Collins Primary    Holiday    40 pp. 3/17    978-0-8234-3665-1    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3825-9    $16.95 Bitter cold, fatigue, leg cramps, driftwood obstacles, jellyfish stings, threats of shark attacks — it’s the rare individual who would risk […]

Review of Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!

Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! by Andrea J. Loney; illus. by Keith Mallett Primary    Lee & Low    40 pp.    g 6/17    978-1-62014-260-8    $19.95 One of the most memorable visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance was photographer James VanDerZee. In a picture-book biography that follows VanDerZee from his childhood interest in photography to his […]

Review of Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines: Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines: Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illus. by Dow Phumiruk Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    32 pp. 5/17    978-1-250-11249-1    $17.99 In its early pages, this quiet and contemplative picture-book biography sets up artist-architect Maya Lin’s fascination with spaces, natural and human-made, and their dynamic relationship with phenomena […]

Life under siege

Growing up amidst political turmoil and war can have profound effects on any individual. These memoirs and biographies offer nuanced explorations of lives in such uncertain places and times. In How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringiyimana recounts life before, during, and after war. Growing up in the […]

Unprecedented daring: awe-inspiring picture book biographies

Are you a daredevil at heart? Ready to take on a challenge? Are you passionate about causes and willing to jump in when you see injustice, even in the face of possible danger? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’ll find a kindred spirit in the subjects of these two books. If you […]

Using picture books to teach adolescents about genre

I teach a course every spring about methods in teaching writing, and one topic we learn about is teaching genre. Adolescents need a fairly broad understanding of a variety of genres, both reading and writing them, though often English classrooms focus heavily on reading novels and writing analytical essays. So every year, I make the […]

Review of Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing

Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert; illus. by Raúl Colón Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp.    g 6/17    978-1-62672-250-7    $17.99 This picture-book biography of folk legend Seeger lays out the events of his adult life with a focus not on dry facts but on helping child readers […]

Review of Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Holiday    40 pp. 3/17    978-0-8234-3664-4    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3796-2    $16.95 McCully’s profile of remarkable nineteenth-century astronomer Caroline Herschel reveals the scientist’s complicated yet productive life as her brother William’s co-researcher and housekeeper. After childhood illnesses […]

Review of Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko

Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko poems by Misuzu Kaneko; narrative by David Jacobson; illus. by Toshikado Hajiri; trans. from the Japanese by Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi Primary, Intermediate, Middle School    Chin Music Press    64 pp. 9/16    978-1-634905-962-6    $19.50 Part biography, part poetry collection, this book introduces Japanese children’s poet […]