A highly recommended addition to this stellar series.

OPRAH WINFREY

From the She Persisted series

In this series of chapter-book biographies, the common theme is persistence, and that word certainly applies to Oprah Winfrey.

Born to a single mother in Kosciusko, Mississippi, during the Jim Crow era, Oprah was raised by her grandparents on their farm. Once she started school, it was obvious she was bright. However, Oprah’s life was unsettled, as she moved to Wisconsin to join her mother, then two years later to Tennessee to live with her father. Her father was strict about school and church attendance, two areas that gave Oprah opportunities to excel. Her love of reading was noticed, and she was recommended for the Upward Bound program and a rigorous high school. Nevertheless, she struggled with her behavior. During those tumultuous years, Oprah discovered the writings of poet Maya Angelou, and they helped her settle in to schoolwork and speech tournaments. That led to her getting an after-school job at a radio station, then a TV station during college. A move to a Baltimore station led to her success in the interview format and ultimately The Oprah Winfrey Show and international fame. This is a lively introduction to the life of a woman who beat many odds to become successful. Award-winning author Watson describes Oprah’s triumphs as well as her difficulties, including sexual abuse, in age-appropriate prose. Young readers who know only the accomplished philanthropist will take inspiration from knowing of her beginnings. Flint’s black-and-white illustrations enhance the text.

A highly recommended addition to this stellar series. (suggested activities, acknowledgments, references) (Biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11598-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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