Children Take a Look at Women in History
Basbanes, Nicholas A, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
March is a month to celebrate women's history and the arrival of spring, a welcome event that makes us think of the outdoors around us, with a little time left over to enjoy a chuckle or two.
"Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt," by Doreen Rappaport, illustrations by Gary Kelley (Hyperion Books, $16.99, 48 pages, ages 6 to 12)
Caldecott Honor author Doreen Rappaport takes on another larger- than-life figure -- her previous subjects have included Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln -- with a penetrating profile of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) that pays close attention to the former first lady's early life as a child of privilege, but focuses most triumphantly on her growth as an independent thinker and woman of action. Most of the world, of course, knows Mrs. Roosevelt from her years as the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but this nicely researched narrative takes in the full sweep of her eventful life, using splendid quotations on each page to complement Gary Kelley's richly textured paintings.
"Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude," by Jonah Winter, illustrations by Calef Brown (Atheneum, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 4 to 8)
Pittsburgh writer Jonah Winter offers an affectionate interpretation of Pennsylvania native and long-time Paris resident Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), whose experimental writing was regarded as avant-garde in its day, made somewhat accessible here in what amounts to a clever play on words. Appearances by Alice B. Toklas, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Basket the poodle -- and a mute bear in a chair -- enliven what becomes a party to end all parties. "Everyone who's everyone is at this party. And everyone is everyone. And if everyone is everyone, they must come to this party." Artist Calef Brown seems to get what's going on, which makes for a lot of added fun.
"Crocodile Safari," text and illustrations by Jim Arnosky (Scholastic Press, $22.99, 40 pages, ages 6 to 12, includes DVD)
"Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles," text and illustrations by Jim Arnosky (Sterling Books, $14.95, 32 pages, ages 6 to 12)
For pure value-added features, few children's books can match the work of outdoor writer and artist Jim Arnosky, whose impeccable research, concise writing and magnificently detailed illustrations are some of the components that make what he does so compelling. …