Here's an opportunity to praise an editor. Christy Ottaviano at Henry Holt must have been the one who paired Gabi Swiatkowska with Barbara Herkert's pHere's an opportunity to praise an editor. Christy Ottaviano at Henry Holt must have been the one who paired Gabi Swiatkowska with Barbara Herkert's picture book script about Mary Cassatt - at the very least, she's the one who signed off on it. And it's a genius matchup. Here's why.
Holy cow, man! I have been hearing about this book literally for years, as Erin Hagar is local and a friend of a couple of my co-workers. So I was preHoly cow, man! I have been hearing about this book literally for years, as Erin Hagar is local and a friend of a couple of my co-workers. So I was prepared to like it. And of course, also, it's Julia, and who doesn't love Julia?
But it is SO GOOD. Julia's voice rings out from the pages, whether she is bored doing office work, climbing trees with her childhood friend, or admiring her new kitchen ("it's a wowzer!" she writes in a letter to her longtime long-distance friend Avis DeVoto).
Like other reviewers on Goodreads, I found myself pausing my reading to fire up YouTube to watch her burn French onion soup in her second episode on WGBH, and giggle anew at her forthright manner. I realized that everything my dad taught me about kitchen knives probably came from Julia. I also realized that everything I want to be when I speak in public - relaxed, knowledgeable, warm - comes from Julia too.
There are a lot of books about Julia. This is the one that captures her personality the way her recipes do, the way the cameras did in Boston for all those years. And the art does this too. Magnificent wordless pages give us scenes from Julia's life like film stills - in a muted, nostalgia-tinged palette and with nearly photorealistic detail the content comes forward, allowing us to examine a menu, a camera, a page from her first cookbook. The expertise and sensitivity of this artist is deep and wide.
I am so thrilled that Erin Hagar will be talking about this book at KidLitCon 2015, October 9-10 at the Baltimore HyattPlace Hotel....more
Most students are likely unfamiliar with the story of Ira Aldridge, the nineteenth-century black American actor who rose to fame on the English stage.Most students are likely unfamiliar with the story of Ira Aldridge, the nineteenth-century black American actor who rose to fame on the English stage. At the time, a free black man was unlikely to win speaking parts in mainstream theater in the U.S. But for Ira, the lure of the stage, and especially the works of Shakespeare, was strong. Ira’s father wanted him to use his oratory skills to become a preacher, but Ira defied his father’s wishes, spending his time gaining acclaim as a performer at a black theater. When two British actors offered him passage to England, he left New York and made a name for himself in Europe, notably becoming the first black actor to play Othello on stage. Cooper’s realistic, warm oil paintings have a grainy appearance, which imparts the haze of age without reducing the vitality of the figures. Meanwhile, Armand’s engaging paragraphs, peppered with Shakespearean lines, artfully relay Ira’s passion, trepidation, and eventual boldness as he follows his dreams. A valuable addition to any biography collection.— Paula Willey Reviewed for Booklist...more
I kind of can't get past the fact that Maggie Thrash can't draw. In fact, I'm a little fascinated that the book is readable despite the fact that sheI kind of can't get past the fact that Maggie Thrash can't draw. In fact, I'm a little fascinated that the book is readable despite the fact that she can't draw.
Maggie is at sleepaway camp somewhere in Kentucky, an all-girls camp that has been around for generations. This is a super preppy Southern girls camp - white girls from upper-class families shooting rifles and making friendship bracelets. Maggie has been going to this camp for years, as did her mother and grandmother. This summer, she's sixteen - she'll be preparing for her cotillion when she gets home. It's a great time for her to develop a crush on an older girl.
Maggie's story is great. The pacing is good - the writing communicates the languid rhythms of camp days and the suspended quality of all-summer sleepaway camp. Her relationship with the older girl builds by glances and awkward, nonaccidental accidental touches. We've all been there.
But for Pete's sake, why is she drawing her own book? This is not me being mean - I've seen Maggie Thrash speak and she'll be like, "I never drew a thing before I started making this book!" And it's not like she's a natural. Eyes are blank ovals with kind of a hashmark off the top, landscape is minimal, and the only way to tell characters apart is by their hair.
It reminds me of the way the 5th grade girls all drew puppies one year. Every kid's notebook was covered with shaggy pups with blank oval eyes and a hair bow. And I mean, maybe that's going to make the book more relatable. I have been surprised more than once by kids developing great affection for really badly-drawn graphic novels.
Chiggers, This One Summer, Vera's Ghost, Honor Girl....more