A worthy introduction to this master artist.

MORNINGS WITH MONET

Claude Monet spends an early morning in his “studio boat,” painting scenes of the Seine.

Rosenstock and GrandPré, who’ve amply demonstrated their ability to distill an artist’s work into a rich essence for young readers with biographies of Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and Chagall, now describe an imagined morning in the life of Monet, a founding impressionist. Here, the painter, now rich and famous, sets off to work at 3:30 a.m. In her respectful narrative, the writer’s word choice is precise and revealing. Monet “clambers aboard” his boat and counts his canvases in French: “un, deux, trois, quatre.” Rosenstock describes his working process, “painting the river’s colors, and the air around the colors,” and she weaves in some historical background. GrandPré’s illustrations, painted with acrylics, support and enhance the text. Readers see an older White man with a lush white beard and the “broad belly” and “sturdy legs” of the text. Toward the end, one particularly appealing spread shows Monet’s tools—the canvas, the palette, the brushes—and the artist, satisfied with his morning’s work. The colors are astonishing: from the bright aquamarine of the cover, the faintly violet dawn, the pinks, yellows, and oranges of the sunlight, and the tea-colored interiors. Always, there are brush strokes of other colors visible. An informative author’s note extends the artist’s biography, but the picture of his life painted in this single encounter is sufficient. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 63% of actual size.)

A worthy introduction to this master artist. (sources, acknowledgments) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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