Comedic details, invented dialogue, and cartoonish portrayals tilt this account to the blithely lighthearted.

JUST BEING DALÍ

Following on Cézanne’s Parrot (2020), Guglielmo and Helquist reunite for a buoyant, kid-friendly distillation of Salvador Dalí’s life and art.

Focusing on Dalí’s boyhood impulses—exploration, imagination, doodling at school—the narrative quickly establishes the iconoclastic artist as an early irritant to his father, peers, and teacher. The reiterated complaint “Why can’t you…?” is rejoined with variations on the titular refrain: “But Salvador was just being himself.” A fortuitous convalescence with a painter’s family sparked Dalí’s avid artistic path. He entered a Madrid art academy, where boredom with technical mastery provoked rebellion and expulsion. A move to Paris engendered artistic experimentation, and Dalí found his compatriots, the early surrealists. Helquist here inserts painted thumbnails of works by famous peers: Magritte, Arp, Ernst, Ray, and Miró. His double-page spreads utilize clouds as conduits for playful imagery that aligns with Dalí’s intensely original imagination. The narrative follows Dalí and Gala, his lover and muse, back to Spain, then forth to the U.S., where the success of the small painting The Persistence of Memory (seen viewed by a diverse group of museumgoers) launched decades of fame for the prolific White artist. Guglielmo details some of Dalí’s increasingly sensational capers, which led the European surrealists finally to expel him. The result is to reduce Dalí’s work in design, collaboration, and what would today be seen as brand-building to antics that displeased critics but earned Dalí fans. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Comedic details, invented dialogue, and cartoonish portrayals tilt this account to the blithely lighthearted. (author’s note, selected bibliography, source notes, featured works of art) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984816-58-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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