MOTHER TO TIGERS

This true story, although slight, will go right to the hearts of young animal lovers. In the 1940s, Helen Martini started to care for baby animals her husband brought home temporarily from his job at the Bronx Zoo. Knowing that not all needy animal babies could come to their apartment, Martini offered to start a nursery at the zoo and then became its first female zookeeper. In spare, lyrical prose, Lyon (Gina. Jamie. Father. Bear, 2002, etc.) begins before the title page with a second-person prologue to draw children in, starting, “Suppose you were a lion cub—abandoned.” Then in the more conventional third-person, she conveys Martini’s story and her pleasure in her work with well-chosen details, many of them about animals. The illustrations alternate luminous watercolor with charcoal drawings on brown paper, each picture shown on torn paper and arranged on the page like tiger’s stripes. This design choice varies in its effectiveness, making some pages look cluttered while those with one large picture paired with a simple colored stripe work well. Catalanotto’s (Matthew ABC, 2002, etc.) watercolors, which outshine the charcoal drawings, are especially breathtaking in the close-ups of lion and tiger faces. An afterword tells more about Martini and her accomplishments as well as how Lyon learned about her. A photograph on the back cover of the author at the Bronx Zoo as a ten-year-old, holding a book by Helen Martini, adds another personal note. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-84221-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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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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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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