Review of The Right Word

bryant_right word

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant; illus. by Melissa Sweet Primary    Eerdmans    48 pp. 9/14    978-0-8028-5385-1    $17.50 Apt language and ingenious imagery combine to tell the life story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus. A solitary, though not unhappy, child, Roget spends his time keeping lists and ordering the […]

Review of Little Melba and 
Her Big Trombone

russell-brown_little melba

Little Melba and 
Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown; 
illus. by Frank Morrison Primary    Lee & Low    40 pp. 7/14    978-1-60060-898-8    $18.95    g From the time she was a little girl, Melba Liston loved music, especially the jazz music that surrounded her while she was growing up, first in Kansas City and then in Los […]

Review of The Iridescence of Birds

maclachlan_iridescence of birds

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan; 
illus. by Hadley Hooper Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp. 10/14    978-1-59643-948-1    $17.99 “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived / in a dreary town…” Thus begins this speculative exploration of the painter’s early encounters with color, worded as a book-length […]

Josephine

josephine

The subtitle of Patricia Hruby Powell (author) and Christian Robinson (illustrator)’s fabulous picture-book biography of the early-twentieth-century African American dancer and iconoclast is “The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker” — and the book is truly as dazzling as its subject. So we can get that major, crucial criterion “appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept” […]

The Pilot and the Little Prince

sis_pilot and the little prince

This is a hard post to write. I love Peter Sis’s work, and his latest book, The Pilot and the Little Prince, is getting lots of starred reviews, but I’m having trouble jumping on that bandwagon. Most of my issues with this book wouldn’t fly in a real Caldecott committee discussion. The art is gorgeous and […]

Taking stock

Josephine and Viva Frida

Now it’s my turn, and I find myself not quite as ready as I’d like to be. My job here involves looking at every picture book we review in search of the perfect art with which to illustrate the review. This means I have leafed through lots of books but only spent quality time with the […]

Review of The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra

raschka_cosmobiography of sun ra

The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 5/14    978-0-7636-5806-9    $15.99    g Jazz pioneer and self-proclaimed space case Sun Ra (born Herman P. Blount) gets a portrait as bemusing and sparkly as the man himself in this fantastical tribute. Raschka begins […]

Review of Josephine

powell_josephine

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell; 
illus. by Christian Robinson Intermediate, Middle School    Chronicle    104 pp. 2/14    978-1-4521-0314-3    $17.99 To describe Josephine Baker’s life as “dazzling” is not an exaggeration. In this incomparable biography both Powell and Robinson convey the passion, exuberance, dignity, and eccentricity of their subject through words […]

The queen of all biographies

Queen of the Falls

“What?! You can’t stop reading there!” bellowed one of my second graders as I shut our read-aloud book and left the main character, Annie Taylor, sealed in a barrel and about to reach the precipice of Niagara Falls. I smiled at his uncontainable outburst and began soliciting predictions about whether Annie would survive her madcap […]

Review of Dare the Wind

fern_dare the wind

Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern; 
illus. by Emily Arnold McCully Primary    Ferguson/Farrar    40 pp. 2/14    978-0-374-31699-0    $17.99    g In the early 1800s, young Ellen Prentiss (1814–1900) learned to be a keen and fearless sailor on her father’s trading schooner. Captain Prentiss also taught Ellen a difficult skill most sailors, and even some captains, never […]