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

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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

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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

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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 […]

Dave the Potter

Dave the Potter

Here’s a biography of someone we really know very little about. What do you make of Hill’s poem? Do you want to learn more? Do Collier’s illustrations fill in some gaps? The information at the end tells us more, but in fact we are still left with a mystery. Do Collier’s collages match the tone […]

Lives lived large

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Picture book biographies provide young children with glimpses into the lives of notable men and women. The following books highlight people whose accomplishments in the arts, on the seven seas, and on the world stage are inspirations to us all. Arun Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, tells of visiting Sevagram, India, as a child in […]

The Tree Lady

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A few weeks ago we put out a call for titles we might have missed, and Ed Wolfer recommended this book. It’s a complete coincidence — scouts’ honor — but the timing of this post coincides with a blizzard here in New England. The warm colors and desert world evoked in this inspiring picture book […]