An intriguing, loving biography that’s unfortunately marred by some disparaging clichés.

LISTEN

HOW EVELYN GLENNIE, A DEAF GIRL, CHANGED PERCUSSION

Stocker and Holzwarth tell the story of Evelyn Glennie, a profoundly Deaf world-renowned solo percussionist.

The story opens with Glennie’s musical childhood in the Scottish countryside. She was well on her way to becoming a skilled pianist and clarinetist when she started losing her hearing around the age of 10. Despite her doctor’s gloomy prognostication—“she’s never going to be able to play music”—young Evelyn refused to give up her dream. Drawn to her high school orchestra’s percussion section, she solicited the help of music teacher Ron Forbes, who taught her how to use her body to sense the vibrations of percussion instruments. Despite challenges, including the discrimination she faced as a Deaf person, Glennie persevered and was eventually accepted into the Royal Academy of Music in London. The story closes with a précis of her groundbreaking career achievements. Holzwarth’s illustrations—rendered in watercolor, gouache, and color pencil with digital touches—are charming and effectively portray the dynamics of sound visually. Some kids may be turned off by the wordy text and small font size. The implicit narrative framing of a disabled person as "inspirational" and having "overcome" their disability is problematic. This and the tired juxtaposition of Deaf school with failure and mainstream school with success are unfortunate blemishes in an otherwise sweet and educational book. Like too many children’s books featuring deafness, this story would appeal to hearing or oral Deaf children but might not be an appropriate choice for signing Deaf children.

An intriguing, loving biography that’s unfortunately marred by some disparaging clichés. (author's note, references) (Picture-book biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-10969-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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