This powerful biography is a boon for all children and is particularly valuable for children outside of the mainstream who...

THE WORLD IS NOT A RECTANGLE

A PORTRAIT OF ARCHITECT ZAHA HADID

A visionary architect from Iraq gets well-deserved attention in Winter’s new picture-book biography about a woman of courage whose ideas and persistence influenced the world.

Zaha Hadid, a native of Baghdad, grows up admiring nature and patterns. She designs her own clothes, wonders at the ruins in her homeland, and dreams of designing cities. “Zaha has ideas.” Zaha studies math, then leaves home to study architecture in London. She then sets to work planning and designing what the world has never seen: buildings conceived after the shapes and patterns of nature. Working past the initial rejection and discrimination she faces, Zaha grows her firm from one room to an entire building. Eventually, her designs are built all over the world. Her architects continued “making models of her visions” even after her death, which is gently portrayed in this book for young readers. The illustrations in this portrait are fresh and spare, highlighting the concepts behind Zaha’s designs. As in Winter’s other picture books, the use of color, shape, and pattern in the artwork pairs beautifully with the straightforward text to tell this intriguing story. The text makes a delightful read-aloud, and it’s engaging enough to grab the attention of independent readers as well.

This powerful biography is a boon for all children and is particularly valuable for children outside of the mainstream who have large visions and dreams of their own. (author’s note, sources.) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4669-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

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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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            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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