GRANDMA MOSES

Veteran picture-book biographer Wallner has turned her hand to the life and work of the great 20th-century American Primitive painter Anna Mary Robertson, a.k.a. Grandma Moses. Employing homespun illustrations and straightforward, homey, narrative style, Wallner takes youngsters back to the artist’s 19th-century New England roots. She limns the life spent on family farms and as a widow trying to make ends meet. Moses began embroidering “worsted pictures,” preferring images and scenes from her childhood in New York and New England. When rheumatism pained, she turned to paints. The thrifty artist used whatever paints and supports on hand—including glitter in her snow scenes. Wallner recreated Moses’s art here and appends one page of backmatter to round out the content. Youngsters who want to actually see Moses’s own paintings will prefer W. Nikola-Lisa’s The Year with Grandma Moses (2000). Nevertheless, young readers will find this a simple introduction to a genuine American character. A fresh-faced addition to young biography shelves and a sturdy choice for Women’s History Month. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8234-1538-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2004

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A humorous tribute to the zany, determined and innovative side of invention.

PAPA'S MECHANICAL FISH

Young Virena, one of four children, provides inspiration for her aspiring inventor papa’s latest ambitious construction: a submarine.

Fleming bases her tale on the true story of Civil War–era inventor Lodner Phillips, who tried his hand at submarine design on the shores of Lake Michigan. In Fleming’s lively, enthusiastic account, Papa builds three increasingly large and more complicated underwater vehicles, each of which sinks, with Papa emerging cheerfully, if damply, ready for the next round. As Virena muses on the nature of marine life, providing Papa with ideas for improvements, the baby interjects disarmingly funny comments: “No pee pee!” chortles the baby when Virena asks how fish stay dry. The Whitefish IV has room for everyone, and Papa puts his entire family into the contraption—somehow the cheerful presentation keeps readers from worrying about the outcome. Kulikov’s expansive, comical illustrations offer exaggerated perspectives from above and below the deep blue-green water, huge and beautiful fish just under the surface and a loving family for the determined inventor. Blueprints for each version of the mechanical fish are included—a neat glimpse into the invention process—while the peculiarly human expressions on the family bulldog remind readers that this is a fantasy. An author’s note and an extensive list of adult resources give background information about the real Lodner Phillips.

A humorous tribute to the zany, determined and innovative side of invention. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-39908-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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