An excellent beginner’s resource for biography, U.S. history, and women’s studies.



This brief, illustrated biography explores how the life of pioneering photojournalist Dorothea Lange influenced her art.

Although the oil-pastel depictions of human bodies are at times distractingly awkward, the mostly autumnal palette complements the text as it teaches about its subject’s (called Dorothea throughout) difficulties: polio, poverty, paternal desertion, and eventually, a family opposed to her “unladylike” choice of profession. After an excellent red-and-black spread depicting Dorothea’s darkroom, the returning tawny colors work equally well to conjure the Great Depression. Throughout, boldly red-inked sentences suggest what apparently drove Dorothea from her lucrative, private portrait practice to become the sole woman on FDR’s team of documentary photographers: “Dorothea sees with her eyes and her heart,” and “Her heart knows all about people the world ignores.” Interestingly, the text introduces the idea of “invisibility” as a photographer’s asset. It also stresses Dorothea’s perseverance despite her “forever-withered leg” and makes a clear, egalitarian stand about her subjects: “They are good people in real trouble.” Backmatter reproductions of Lange’s photographs greatly enhance the story. 

An excellent beginner’s resource for biography, U.S. history, and women’s studies. (author’s note, bibliography, resources, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62979-208-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.


An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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