Memorable art earns this biography a respectable place on the shelf.

THE SECRET GARDEN OF GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

George Washington Carver tended a secret garden of flowers before becoming known for his skill in agriculture.

The book opens in 1921 as Carver addresses the U.S. Congress, astounding them with dozens of uses for the peanut. The narration then takes readers back to Carver’s childhood to discover how he reached that career highlight. As a child, he loved flowers, but he was warned not to waste time on plants that couldn’t be eaten or sold, so he kept his colorful garden hidden in the woods. Shut out of schools because he was black, he studied nature independently and learned through experimentation. Eventually, he started caring for neighbors’ sick plants, becoming known as “the Plant Doctor.” At 12, he left the farm on which he was raised and attained a formal education, after which he taught students at the Tuskegee Institute and farmers with a mobile classroom mounted on a wagon. This journey through Carver’s childhood and accomplishments ends with Carver’s simple but memorable words, “Regard Nature. Revere Nature. Respect Nature.” The substantial text holds readers on each spread long enough to appreciate not only the subject matter of the painted illustrations, but Morrison’s artistic techniques—strong strokes and careful dots, artful combinations of textures and shapes—which create lush forest scenes and portraitlike human faces and forms. The childhood story feels more cohesive than the final pages, which list his adult accomplishments but lack the narrative thread.

Memorable art earns this biography a respectable place on the shelf. (timeline, bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243015-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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