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Review of The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano

The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano by Elizabeth Rusch; illus. by Marjorie Priceman Primary, Intermediate    Atheneum    48 pp. 4/17    978-1-4814-4484-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-4485-9    $10.99 Readers take a journey to Italy during the closing years of the Renaissance to meet a man whose invention is better known than his […]

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 […]

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 […]

Review of Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation

Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation by Kristen Fulton; illus. by Holly Berry Primary    McElderry    40 pp. 5/17    978-1-4814-6096-5    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6097-2    $10.99 Caroline Pickersgill grew up around industrious women: her widowed mother ran a successful flag-making business from their Baltimore […]

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 Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A. Haring; illus. by Robert Neubecker Primary    Dial    40 pp. 2/17    978-0-525-42819-0    $16.99    g As an upbeat narrative chronicles pop artist Haring’s childhood, early adulthood, and brief but momentous career, our subject faces relentless questions from onlookers confused by his […]

Women in the visual arts

We’re commemorating Women’s History Month in typical Horn Book fashion — by highlighting great books! Last week we recommended books about groundbreaking women in STEM; here are some recent picture-book biographies (plus one memoir and one tribute anthology) of innovative female visual artists. Today brought some good news regarding women and art: it’s just been […]