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Picture book biographies

Three new picture book biographies feature a visionary puppeteer, a world-renowned clown, and a young lighthouse keeper who would later be dubbed the “Bravest Woman in America.”

Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with PuppetsJim Henson’s imaginative early life served as the foundation for his later creative efforts, a connection author Kathleen Krull and illustrators Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher bring to light in Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets. Krull’s straightforward text highlights key events and includes anecdotes to round out Henson’s inspirational life story. Colorful full-page and vignette paintings capture the vitality in Henson’s work. This celebration of Henson is a timely way to mark the late artist’s seventy-fifth birthday. (5–8 years)

Marcel Marceau: Master of MimePantomime artist Marcel Marceau’s silent, white-faced character Bip is widely known throughout the world. Less known is Marceau’s life story, which is just as fascinating — including brave work for the French Resistance during WWII. In her understated picture-book biography, Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime, Gloria Spielman focuses particularly on the actor’s early years, showing how he first used his natural talents as a survival mechanism and later crafted them into an art form. Manon Gauthier’s softly colored line drawing perfectly capture the gentle spirit of Marcel Marceau, both off and on stage. (5–8 years)

The Bravest Woman in AmericaThe Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss introduces a bygone but ever-intriguing profession through the determination and courage of one girl. In 1857 Ida Lewis and her family moved to the lighthouse that guards Rhode Island’s Newport Harbor. Soon after, illness disabled her father; Ida took over his lighthouse duties and, at sixteen, heroically rescued four boys whose boat had capsized. It was the first of many rescues during a lifelong career for which she received a Congressional Lifesaving Medal, among other honors, becoming known as the “Bravest Woman in America.” The stirring events are beautifully visualized in Andrea U’Ren’s painterly watercolor, ink, and acrylic art. (4–8 years)

From Notes from the Horn Book, November 2011

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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