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Rock & Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story

Sebastian Robertson, illus. by Adam Gustavson. Holt/Ottaviano, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9473-2

Robertson details his father’s development as a Canadian musician who eventually became known for his work with the Band. Influenced by his First Nation heritage, Robertson formed his first band at age 13; interactions with artists like Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan helped him hone his guitar style. Robertson offers insight into the musical scene of the time, noting the Band’s unique aesthetic: “It was as if they stumbled out of the 1800s right on to the psychedelic rock scene of the 1960s.” Gustavson’s naturalistic oil paintings combine off-the-cuff moments with more iconic compositions that might have been pulled from dusty album covers. A detailed time line and a q&a flesh out this loving account. Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Ryan Harbage, Fischer-Harbage Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious

Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illus. by Hayelin Choi. Readers to Eaters (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9836615-6-6

This adoring tribute to chef Alice Waters begins with a three-year-old Alice dressing in “a lettuce-leaf skirt, radish bracelets, a necklace of strawberries, a crown of asparagus,” and winning a costume contest. Bringing the lessons she learns about food home from her world travels, Waters shares meals with friends before opening her restaurant, Chez Panisse, and pioneering the Edible Schoolyard Project. Martin describes how Waters seeks out ingredients with integrity: “The delicious meals she wanted to serve to her customers began not in the kitchen but in the field, with good soil and thoughtful farmers.” Debut artist Choi fills the pages with cheerful scenes of smiling, multicultural children preparing and enjoying food; Waters herself contributes an afterword. Ages 5–up. Author’s agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Literary Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illus. by Gilbert Ford. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-547-95922-1

With the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair on the horizon, American engineer George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. won a design contest for what would become the Ferris wheel, a “structure that would dazzle and move, not just stand still like the Eiffel Tower” (the star of the previous World Fair). Despite naysayers (“It’s undignified,” grouses one onlooker), George and his crew plowed forward with plans for the giant, circular steel structure, unveiling the machine at the fair’s opening. Davis delivers a tense and satisfying underdog story, while Ford creates a stylized 19th-century landscape, setting impressionistic backgrounds against the hard-edged geometric shapes of the wheel and other structures, colored in deep, subdued blues and violets. Direct quotations and captions explaining historical detail keep the context of the story in sharp focus. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza

J.L. Powers, illus. by George Mendoza and Hayley Morgan-Sanders. Purple House (www.purplehousepress.com), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-930900-73-8

Powers traces the life of Mendoza, a blind painter, accompanied by Mendoza’s own striking paintings. As a child, Mendoza learned that he was losing his vision: “George didn’t lose all his sight, though. Instead, he started seeing flashing lights and brilliant colors even at night when he dreamed.” Despite the changes in his vision (an afterword describes his condition as “kaleidoscope eyes”), Mendoza discovered a love for running, twice competing at the Olympics. He then found his life purpose when he takes the advice of a priest to “paint what you see.” Reproductions of Mendoza’s bright, abstract paintings appear opposite the text and small line drawings of George running and interacting with others. While these cartoons help ground the narrative, they have a stiff and stilted quality that doesn’t fare well against the fiery impact of Mendoza’s own artwork. Ages 3–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

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