Readers will scurry to collage household and backyard tidbits; pair this with Ehlert’s other work for maximum satisfaction.

THE SCRAPS BOOK

NOTES FROM A COLORFUL LIFE

Scraps—of art supplies, of finished illustrations, of techniques and of memory—overlap in this blend of memoir and artistic how-to.

Right from the start, Ehlert decorates each page with collages of more than one material. Photos of gleaming scissors sit near a baby photo of herself with her mother, the text listing the “fabric scraps, buttons, lace, ribbons, and many scissors” that her mother shared with her. Photos of paint brushes, every bristle temptingly visible, overlap a childhood photo with her father, who shared wood scraps and taught her about painting, sawing and pounding nails. A photo of her parents “after hunting for wild asparagus” pairs with painted, collaged asparagus from Eating the Alphabet (1989). Tackling common questions, she frames art as eminently doable. (Where does she get her ideas? Mostly from the natural world: “On a trip to the aquarium, while I watched colorful fish swim by, a book idea swam into my brain.”) Some technical terms become clear by visual example; others require outside explanation (dummy book; “[m]echanical sketch showing die cut overlays”). Highlights include a line sketch of the iconic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom next to color swatches and final shapes and all the thumbnails—plus two text versions—of Feathers for Lunch (1990).

Readers will scurry to collage household and backyard tidbits; pair this with Ehlert’s other work for maximum satisfaction. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3571-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them.

NELSON MANDELA

An inspirational ode to the life of the great South African leader by an award-winning author and illustrator.

Mandela’s has been a monumental life, a fact made clear on the front cover, which features an imposing, full-page portrait. The title is on the rear cover. His family gave him the Xhosa name Rolihlahla, but his schoolteacher called him Nelson. Later, he was sent to study with village elders who told him stories about his beautiful and fertile land, which was conquered by European settlers with more powerful weapons. Then came apartheid, and his protests, rallies and legal work for the cause of racial equality led to nearly 30 years of imprisonment followed at last by freedom for Mandela and for all South Africans. “The ancestors, / The people, / The world, / Celebrated.” Nelson’s writing is spare, poetic, and grounded in empathy and admiration. His oil paintings on birch plywood are muscular and powerful. Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up.

A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-178374-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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