An eye-catching tale of music and perseverance.

ITZHAK

A BOY WHO LOVED THE VIOLIN

Newman recounts the childhood of renowned Israeli American violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman.

In his family’s tiny Tel Aviv apartment, the “graceful classical symphonies” and “lively klezmer folk tunes” pouring from the radio enchanted Itzhak; at 3, he begged for a violin. But at 4, polio left him paralyzed. Though “other four-year-olds might have given up,” a “steady melody played inside Itzhak,” spurring him to relearn everyday tasks. But his legs remained paralyzed, requiring him to walk with forearm crutches and play his violin seated. Undaunted, he made the “extraordinary choice” of being neither sad nor angry; barriers, such as stairs, were “ordinary things Itzhak just had to get used to.” After joining Israeli orchestras at 6 and playing solos at 10, he performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York at 13 despite knowing little English. The upbeat text, interspersed with quotes from the adult Perlman, amplifies his resilience and passion. But Halpin’s vibrant illustrations take center stage. Bars of Bach and Mendelssohn adorn the pages, bursts of red, yellow, blue, and green reflecting the musical “rainbow” in Itzhak’s mind; tender facial expressions convey Itzhak’s passion and his family’s love. An author’s note mentions Perlman’s advocacy for people with disabilities (jarringly and anachronistically referred to as “the handicapped” and “wheelchair-bound”); a timeline charts Perlman’s extensive career. Most characters, including Itzhak, present white.

An eye-catching tale of music and perseverance. (illustrator’s note, notes, links, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4110-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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An important and inspiring tale well told.

CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER

This biography of the “father of Black History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson, highlights experiences that shaped his passion.

Carter was born after the Civil War, but his parents had been slaves, and he grew up hearing the stories of their lives. With six siblings, Carter experienced lean times as a boy. Carter’s father, who couldn’t read or write, had Carter read the newspaper aloud. As a teenager, Carter had to work to help his family. In the coal mines, he met Oliver Jones, a Civil War veteran who opened his small home to the other men as a reading room. There, Carter once again took on the role of reader, informing Oliver and his friends of what was in the paper—and then researching to tell them more. After three years in the mines, he moved home to continue his education, eventually earning a Ph.D. from Harvard, where a professor challenged him to prove that his people had a history. In 1926 he established Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month. Hopkinson skillfully shapes Carter’s childhood, family history, and formative experiences into a cohesive story. The soft curves and natural palette of Tate’s illustrations render potentially scary episodes manageable for young readers, and portraits of historical figures offer an opening to further discovery. The incorporation of newsprint into many page backgrounds artfully echoes the title, and the inclusion of notable figures from black history reinforces the theme (a key is in the backmatter).

An important and inspiring tale well told. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, resources, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56145-934-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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