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News & Reviews

Mercedes Sosa,

The Voice of Latin America



Knopf Books for Young Readers

(pub. 9.12.2023) 48 pages

Ages 4-8

Author and Illustrator: Melisa Fernández Nitsche

Character: Mercedes Sosa


" The folk rhythm of the bombo drum beats like a heart, with a resonant voice singing the truth of her people. Mercedes Sosa sang about what it means to be human, and her songs of struggle always spoke the truth of the injustice that so many workers and families in Latin America faced. 

As a teen, she won a local radio contest, and as her confidence grew, so did her fame. From a folk festival to Carnegie Hall and the Sistine Chapel, Mercedes performed the world over, sharing stories through song. But not everyone loved her singing: a military dictatorship ruled over Argentina, and they saw the power of her voice. Even from exile, Mercedes Sosa was a beacon of freedom for her people, and when she returned to her homeland, she persisted in her work: to be the voice of the voiceless."

Tantalizing taste:

" She had to flee to Europe, carrying only her bombo, three suitcases, and a handbag.

But some things didn't fit in her luggage ...

Mercedes missed her family.

She'd hear Spanish songs on the radio and hum along under her breath.

In exile, she couldn't taste her mother's homemade locro, and the sweet scent of the orange trees was nowhere to be found.

The love for her homeland only grew stronger.

The farther you are from home, the closer it is to your heart, she thought."

And something more: Melisa Fernández Nitsche, in the Author's Note explains that "Mercedes Sosa has been a familiar voice to me since my childhood: at school events, on the radio, and on TV... I spent months researching Mercedes... What captivated me the most was her authenticity and the strength in her voice. Mercedes chose to sing songs about things she found important and wanted to speak up on, doing so in a tough and complicated political context in which singing was a life commitment."

Dr. Katalin Karikó

and the Battle Against Covid-19



Quill Tree Books

(HarperCollins Publishers)

(pub.10.3.2023) 40 pages

Ages 4-8

Author: Megan Hoyt

Illustrator: Vivien Mildenberger

Character: Katalin Karikó


" When she was young, Katalin Karikó decided she would study science—even though she had never even met a scientist! But she was determined to learn as much as she could about the human body, and once she made a decision, she stuck with it. Katalin had to learn English while attending university, but she worked hard until she became a doctor.

After facing many challenges, including lack of research funding and harsh immigration policies, Kati and her family uprooted from Hungary and moved to America, where she became a top researcher. She knew that, with work, she could teach one of the building blocks of life, messenger RNA, to fight off harmful viruses. There was just one problem—no one else believed her.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Kati and her work were thrust into the spotlight. But with her unshakable will, she was ready to face the challenge."

Tantalizing taste:

" Kati's mind never took a break. Messenger RNA danced through her dreams and filled up her days. She loved her research, even though some scientists were skeptical of her ideas. 'This sounds almost like science fiction,' they said. Kati knew it sounded impossible. She had trouble convincing any lab to give her grant money to continue working on these tiny messengers that would tell human cells how to fight viral invaders. But each experiment brought glimmers of hope. She jotted down notes and figures and celebrated every success, no matter how small."

And something more: A letter from Katalin Karikó is included in the back matter of KATI'S TINY MESSENGERS, and it includes the following touching and inspiring thoughts: "I grew up in a small town in Hungary, in a house with no running water. How did I go from that life to impacting so many people with my scientific discoveries? I can answer that question in one word: curiosity!

...We never had expected our discovery to impact billions of people around the world, and not every idea will do that. But I want you to know that no matter what the people around you say, no matter how many people tell you what you are trying to do is impossible, you just keep on pursuing your dream. If you work hard to achieve your goals, you may impact a whole generation. But even if you impact only one person, you will have changed their world."

Randolph Caldecott and the Rambunctious

Coming-of-Age of Children's Books



Chronicle Books

(pub. 11.14.2023) 44 pages

Author: Michelle Markel

and illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Character: Randolph Caldecott


" Quick! If you don’t move fast, you’ll miss him—there he goes—Randolph Caldecott, future famous illustrator. His sketchbook is full of hurly-burly: wild weather, frisky animals, and people so sprightly they can barely hold onto the pages. But in the 1850s, there were no children’s books like that. Not yet.

Many books are published, but their pictures look stiff, full of pretty poses and cluttered scenery. No one has imagined how much fun an illustrated book could be because the future hero of children’s book illustration is still just a lad. Join Michelle Markel and Barbara McClintock for a riotous adventure through the seminal history of children's books—their art, their joy, and the man who changed them for good."

Tantalizing taste:



Randolph goes to sessions of Parliament, to fashionable weddings,

to boat races on the river, where he gets squashed in the squishingest

crowds he's ever seen.

But at night, alone in his workshop,

he misses his friends.

He misses living in the country.

Sometimes, on his letters, he draws

himself as a sad, frumpled cartoon.

Randolph wants to be the best artist

he can be. He's not as skilled as the famous

illustrators, painters, and sculptors

he meets - people who've studied in fine

academies, in Paris.

Could he ever do the kinds

of things they do?"

And something more: The Back Matter of TOMFOOLERY! abounds with interesting information, such as references to Caldecott's own art in the book, Annotations (timeline), information about Illustrated Victorian Periodicals, Toy Book Illustrators: The Big Three, a list of Picture Books By Caldecott, and a Bibliography. The ANNOTATIONS state: "During a trip to America in 1886, Caldecott's life was cut short by illness. But he will always be remembered. In 1937, when the American Library Association created a medal for the artist of the most distinguished American picture book - their highest honor - they named it after Randolph Caldecott."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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