I like biographies. Mostly because you have to be pretty much into the subject to write about people. Granted, not all the time (you might be a contracted writer for a series) but when you have someone like Edith Head, the odds are you are a fan. Otherwise why would you write something about a person that famous, but not very “mainstream?” Oh sure, we know a little about her from the Disney The Incredibles movies, but that is nothing like the real woman. And Jeanne Walker Harvey gives us the real deal with Dressing UP the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head. There was so much awesomeness to this person. From her childhood right up to her wonderful ways of dressing people for the silver screen. Or even the animals. She did it all! The awards, the glamour and the outfits are all laid out for our viewing pleasure. Diana Toledano seems to have been inspired by the artist herself with her details, colors and images to the illustrations. They are both a supporter of the text and a character in themselves. It is hard to say a lot without giving it all away (not that there are “surprises” but still there was so much to highlight I might as well read you the book), but this is a hidden gem I’m glad I found. While I read via one of my older online reader links, the book is currently available.
Also, I like to eat. But I prefer simple foods. Give me a PB&J or some chocolate. Nothing fancy. Which is probably why I am not really familiar with chefs. Sure the ones that are flashy and put cookbook after cookbook after cookbook out, or get into scandals, or hock their latest not-air-fryer-air-fryer in commercials I know, but I had never heard of or (or it hadn’t stuck) José Andrés. But after reading Jose Feeds the World: How a famous chef feeds millions of people in need around the world you know I will be looking into things more. This is the kind of hero we need. Nothing wrong with respecting a football or basketball player, or an actor or actress or musician, but frankly even I need to redefine my definition of Hero and Role model. David Unger tells us how Andres did not just bring food to places like Haiti or Puerto Rico after their earthquakes, other natural disasters or wars, he learned about the people and how to help them, but also to give them the respect to help themselves and their communities. He found ways of not just making a dish of beans his way, but the way that was familiar and comfortable to the locals. He found ways of making trucks, heating sources and more come with him. And Marta Alvarez Miguens just has really cool illustrations. I could go on and on like I usually do, but they are just really good and have all the things I like about illustrations when it comes to color and details and presentation. Read via an online reader copy, this due in late January/early February 2024 title is a must have.
Speaking of people I had never heard of, there was one of those people found in pages of The Snow Man: A True Story by the team of Jonah Winter and Jeanette Winter. The man is billy barr (he does not use capitals) went to the woods one time, left, but then said, “That was fun” and went back and stayed. But it was boring with just a skunk and other animals to talk to, so he passed the time looking, measuring and recording snow. The findings would be later given to a local scientist and years worth of work was found to show that global warming was real. The patterns were there. Just notebooks, no real fancy machinery, were filled with some of the most important scientific discoveries on the subject. However much I liked this book and put 5 as my review rating, it is actually a 4.5 only because I would have liked to have known more about The Snowman’s life in a more timeline fashion. But the focus of Jonah Winter is the science and not so much the man. There are some extras to help, but I think starting in the “middle” of the story was what tossed me off (we start with the man coming to the cabin and there are the animals that became his roommates). The artwork of Jeanette Winter is the perfect companion to the story of a man who one day was bored and decided to watch the snow. The signature style of that folkart genre is perfect. It is simply detailed (like barr himself) but boldly colorful. Due in October 2023 I read via an online reader copy