A solid, immensely readable introduction to a complex man, in a complex time of history.


The 32nd president faced many challenges, including enduring and overcoming a difficult illness and helping to cure an economic sickness of the nation.

Spanning her subject’s childhood through his first term as president, Jurmain takes a close look at an indomitable Franklin D. Roosevelt. Young FDR very much admired his older cousin Ted (who just happened to be president). At one point, Franklin grew a distinctive Ted-like mustache and profusely used the term “DEE-lighted.” But he also worked very hard to climb the political ladder. Suddenly, his privileged life took a turn when his legs became paralyzed from polio. Jurmain describes the fierce determination of a man who believed, “Above all, TRY SOMETHING.” Despite disability—perhaps spurred on by such hardship—he became governor of New York, and soon thereafter, when the country itself became paralyzed from the Great Depression, he became president. Feisty text sprinkled with amusing anecdotes enlivens this tale of serious events. Day meets Jurmain with lively pencil, watercolor, and gouache illustrations that take advantage of opportunities for lightness (a picture of Franklin in the bath will give readers cause to snicker) while sounding appropriately somber notes when called for.

A solid, immensely readable introduction to a complex man, in a complex time of history.   (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3800-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Utterly compelling.


The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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