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News & Reviews

Updated: Sep 18, 2021



Knopf Books for Young Readers

Author: Barb Rosenstock

Illustrator: Mary Grandpre

Character: Claude Monet

Overview: "Claude Monet is one of the world's most beloved artists--and he became famous during his own lifetime. He rejected a traditional life laid out clean and smooth before him. Instead he chose a life of art. But not just any art: a new way of seeing that came to be called impressionism.

Monet loved to paint what he saw around him, particularly the Seine River. He was initially rejected for using bright colors, tangled brushstrokes--condemned for his impressions. But soon art dealers and collectors were lining up each morning to see as Monet saw. Monet, however, waited only for the light. The changing light...each morning he had a dozen canvases on hand to paint a dozen different moments. His brush moved back and forth, chasing sunlight--putting in the arduous work to create an image that seemed to contain no effort at all." Tantalizing taste:

"He picks up a dollop of deep purple on his brush. Swooping and spreading shadows from palette to canvas. Shaping without lines, seeing in patches of color. Cream linen under bright green under dusty blue with soft lavender smoothed on top.

Painting the river's colors, and the air around the colors. Monet wipes his brow; it is not easy to paint air."

And something more: Barb Rosenstock writes in the Author's Note: "Monet's work on this book's subject, the Mornings on the Seine series, did not go smoothly at first. In fall of 1896, it rained for forty-one days. He finished only a few canvases from le bateau atelier (the studio boat) and waited out the winter... Mornings on the Seine differs from Monet's earlier work - the paint surface is smoother and the colors more harmonized. Most of these canvases ware square and had to be custom ordered. Some are almost abstract - it is hard to tell up from down, or the real scene from its reflection."

Updated: Sep 18, 2021



Christy Ottaviano Books

(Henry Holt and Company)

(pub.3.9.2021) 40 pages

Author: Robert Burleigh

Illustrator: Wendell Minor

Character: Wilbur Wright


"On September 29th, 1909, Wilbur Wright performed his first public flight for a crowd of disbelievers in the New York Harbor, home to the Statue of Liberty. With courage and caution, he put his airplane to the test and flew around the iconic landmark while the crowd observed, breathless.

This minute-by-minute account of Wright’s voyage over New York City captures the weight and the wonder of human achievement. When Wilbur Wright met Lady Liberty, he propelled his dream into the imaginations of many, securing the future of aviation." Tantalizing taste:

"From far below, a thunderous cheering rises, falls, and rises again. Flags flutter. Hats fly skyward. Whistles sound. Horns blare.

Passengers crowd the deck of the Lusitania, looking up and calling out. Wilbur dips one wing in a playful hello and flies on. The powerful deep blast from the great ship's foghorn even makes the Flyer shake slightly!"

And something more: Robert Burleigh shares in the Author's Note: "Wilbur's New York Harbor flight was the first either of the brothers had made over a body of water."

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory



Kids Can Press

(pub. 5.4.2021) 40 pages

Author: Julie Abery

Illustrator: Chris Sasaki

Character: Soichi Sakamoto

Overview: "The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme. When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children --- and then he began training them how to swim... The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto's guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true --- Olympic gold!" Tantalizing taste:

"Valley Isle.

Lush terrain.

Migrant workers

cutting cane.

Dawn to dusk

they toil away.

Children left

alone to play.

Melting in the

midday sun,

diving, swimming,

having fun."


Policeman's on his beat.

Children scatter

in the heat."

And something more: Julie Abery explains in the Author's Note: "From his classroom window, a local science teacher named Soichi Sakamoto would watch the children swim [in the murky water of the sugar plantation irrigation ditches]. Sakamoto decided to speak to the owners of the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, offering to take responsibility for the children if the company would allow them to keep swimming in the irrigation ditches... Although not a good swimmer himself, he researched swimming strokes and applied his science background to come up with innovative training techniques... Finally, in 1948 Sakamoto's impossible dream came true. .. the Three-Year Swim Club's own Bill Smith took a glorious win in the 400-meter freestyle race- an Olympic record and Olympic gold!"

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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