Sam Bloom

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Review of Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd; illus. by Christian Robinson Primary, Intermediate    Putnam    64 pp.    g 9/21    978-0-06-291564-1    $19.99 Pianist, singer, and composer Nina ­Simone was born Eunice Waymon in rural North Carolina in 1933, a child “who had music on the inside.” Treated by turns...

Review of Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley; illus. by Tara Audibert Primary    Heartdrum/HarperCollins    80 pp.    g 5/21    978-0-06-301537-1    $15.99 Paper ed.  978-0-06-301538-8    $4.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-301539-5    $4.99 This series opener introduces Jo Jo Makoons Azure, a rambunctious first grader with “strong lungs” (according to her mom) and...

Review of The People's Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art

The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art by Cynthia Levinson; illus. by Evan Turk Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    48 pp.    g 4/21    978-1-4197-4130-2    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-64700-320-3    $15.54 Ben Shahn (1898–1969) was known as “the people’s painter” because his art told real stories about real people. Levinson...

Big Machines

Each fall, as award season heats up and the Interwebs start buzzing with kid-book love, we all should revisit Vicky Smith’s “Reader, Know Thyself.” Originally posted at Heavy Medal in September 2013, Vicky's essay encourages readers to understand and respect their genre preferences in the context of award consideration: “Are you, as...

Du Iz Tak?

Have you seen Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis’s oversized gouache and ink spreads are impressive to be sure, but it's her ear for entomological dialogue that shines in this one; well, I’ll let you be the judge. Not to give too much away, but at the emotional climax (***spoiler alert*** when...

Review of The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoesby Duncan Tonatiuh; 
illus. by the authorPrimary    Abrams    40 pp.10/16    978-1-4197-2130-4    $16.95After a string of award-winning picture-book biographies (Separate Is Never Equal, rev. 7/14; Funny Bones, rev. 11/15), Tonatiuh turns to folklore for this adapted pourquoi story that explains the origins...

Review of Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse by Catherine Reef Middle School, High School    Clarion    182 pp. 11/16    978-0-544-53580-0    $18.99    g Reef brings her keen eye for character to the “Lady with the Lamp,” Florence Nightingale. Nightingale’s service during the Crimean War, where she emphasized the importance of...

Review of How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Story

How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Storyby Mac Barnett; illus. by Adam RexPrimary    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.9/16    978-1-4231-5220-0    $17.99    gBarnett and Rex, no strangers to metafiction (Chloe and the Lion), have outdone themselves in terms of tongue-in-cheekiness as they describe the process of creating a book. “Ideas can...

Review of Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Storyby Arun Gandhi and Bethany 
Hegedus; illus. by Evan TurkPrimary    Atheneum    48 pp.8/16    978-1-4814-4265-7    $18.99    ge-book ed.  978-1-4814-4266-4    $10.99The creators of Grandfather Gandhi (rev. 3/14) here share another episode featuring the groundbreaking civil rights figure. Young Arun Gandhi and his family live “simply and...
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