I was into biographies as a kid. Yet, I didn’t have as many selections as we have today. Mostly because only so many were made, only so many were allowed due to age limits, space and only so many my schools and libraries could afford. Yet, one thing that has stayed the same throughout the years, is we tend to have the same people. We have Amelia E. Or Helen Keller. Or Dr. M. L. King. Or the hottie of the moment (Swift, Styles). Therefore, when I find someone new, or perhaps taking a different approach to the subject, I am interested.
The first I will mention is Georgia O’Keeffe in Gifts from Georgia’s Garden: How Georgia O’Keeffe Nourished Her Art. She is a popular subject, but Lisa Robinson took a slightly different approach. Focusing more on the feelings of O’Keeffe and the paintings we follow her “doing her thing.” While it is poetically done, things are mostly straightforward. There might not be any new facts, but if you are not familiar with her, or at least the non-South Western work, it is a good introduction. We also see how the things around her would “nourish” herself and her art. And the art of the illustrator Hadley Hooper is wonderfully done, inspired by the feelings of O’Keeffe, with their own take on things. Colorful and well detailed they are a good addition to the text. Due March 2024
And someone I knew of, but knew little of, was James Baldwin. And when I picked up (via an online reader copy) Jimmy’s Rhythm & Blues: The Extraordinary Life of James Baldwin, I was amazed at this picture book introduction of this writer. Michelle Meadows focuses on the highlights within his life and the spirit of Baldwin himself. The musical text and the artistic, somewhat surreal, dreamier images by Jamie Law create a world that many might not know, and most likely younger readers won’t know. The art adds to the story and the overall picture makes a poetic view of things. Introducing factual information is mostly seamless, and handles subjects that might be sensitive for younger readers/listeners (his sexuality) well. Overall, it is a nice addition to a book collection. Due January 2024
And then we will go to Grand Central Terminal. Or the person who designed it, William J. Wilgus. Being an adult, I should be embarrassed to say, I knew that someone had to design things, but it never really occurred to me that someone had to design things…. And that someone is talked about in A Grand Idea: How William J. Wilgus Create Grand Central Terminal. Megan Hoyt talks about history, people, places and politics. And David Szalay brings this due in late January/early February 2024 book alive with their illustrations. Things are not “politically correct” (there is favoritism, the buildings being torn down to make room), but it is a lovely look at history and how things were changing. The transition of the early years to today being shown is organized well and you don’t feel “bounced” without context.