Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Radiant Child

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
by Javaka Steptoe
Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Grades 2-8

Javaka Steptoe pays tribute to the late artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, in the picture book biography Radiant Child. Steptoe uses mixed-media collage on scrap wood found on the streets of New York for the illustrations inspired by Basquiat's art.

The story begins with a young Jean-Michel who lived with his parents in Brooklyn and dreamed of being an artist. Influenced by his mother's interest in poetry and art and his father's interest in music, Jean-Michel drew, painted and created in a non-traditional style that wasn't clean and neat. Readers will be interested in Jean-Michel's street art he spray painted at night under the name, "Samoo." The story ends on a positive note with Basquiat reaching his dream of becoming a famous artist.

The narrative text and intricate collages create a portrait of a complex and talented artist who influenced many artists who came after him. Take time to read the author's note and back matter containing more information about the life and untimely death of Basquiat. Steptoe explains how he uses motifs and symbolism from Basquiat's work including crowns, eyes, and vehicles.  Radiant Child will not only introduce young readers to an artist they may not know, but it will also inspire children to dream, create and make art. Look for Radiant Child during the awards season; it's sure to top many lists!

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure- Blog Tour

Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure 
by Jennifer Thermes
Abrams Books for Young Readers
On shelves Oct. 4, 2016
Grades K-6

Today I'm taking part in the Charles Darwin's Around-the-World-Adventure blog tour. I am also giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader thanks to the generosity of Abrams Books for Young Readers. Complete the form at the bottom of this post to enter the giveaway.

Jennifer Thermes highlights Charles Darwin's five year expedition on the Beagle in Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure. Upon opening the cover, it's evident that the book is full of kid appeal. Readers will first notice a timeline and a hand-drawn and painted map on the endpapers. After briefly describing Darwin as a child, the focus of the story shifts to his work on the ninety-foot ship, the Beagle. Darwin was hired as a naturalist on board the ship that sailed around South America. Lush watercolor illustrations feature plants and animals that Darwin encountered on the voyage. Readers will especially like the cross-section of the Beagle which shows the insides of cabins and storage areas.

Colorful, full-page maps are placed throughout the book to provide context to the story. Illustrations of animals and insects are included on each map. Thermes keeps the story focused on what Darwin learned on the expedition, but she also adds interesting details throughout the story.

"He saw a rare bird called a rhea that used its wings to steer as it ran, but could not fly. He discovered that some creatures were good for eating. Roasted armadillo made a tasty breakfast."

Thermes provides readers with more information about Darwin's work and The Origin of Species in the "Notes" section in the back of the book. Children will also be interested in the two-page spread of "Fun Facts" with accompanying illustrations. Did you know the Beagle had its own library with "almost four hundred books"?

After reading Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure, young naturalists may be inspired to create their own nature journals. Readers may also find themselves more aware of the insects, plants and animals in their own backyards.

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure Giveaway