by Sherri Duskey Rinker (Author) John Rocco (Illustrator)
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Rinker and Rocco reveal how Virginia Lee Burton transformed her children's love of powerful vehicles into a string of picture books, including her Caldecott Medal-winning The Little House. Burton's study of art and dance are on full display in Rocco's mixed-media illustrations, her movements balletic as she lays the groundwork for her illustrations in pencil. Rinker's exuberant text focuses on process ("First there is jump paper: white, white, white.... With a whoosh of black and some strokes of red and green, Aris and Michael meet... Katy!") and on the joy Burton's creations brought to her sons. Burton's fans will enjoy teasing out the visual references to her work, both in Rocco's use of color and form (including several circular vignettes), while feeling intimately connected to how these treasured stories came into being. Ages 4-7. Illustrator's agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (Sept.)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
PreS-Gr 2--A coal engine, a steam shovel, a snowplow, and a cable car are the big machines that Rinker and Rocco celebrate in the story of Virginia Lee Burton's creative life. Burton's young children, Aris and Michael, clamored for stories about big machines, so "Jinnee" responded by creating Choo Choo, Mary Anne, and the others. For readers not familiar with the stories, Rinker summarizes each over a few pages, imagining Aris and Michael's reactions. Rinker also introduces an element of wonder in the narration, describing Burton as magical and her artists' tools as wands. Rocco's illustrations help convey the magic of creation: to complete the top of Choo Choo's cab, he shows Burton climbing up the ladder that she has just sketched so that she can reach. Rocco also pays tribute to Burton's early passion for ballet by depicting her creation of the big machines as graceful full-body gestures. Elements of Burton's illustrations and attention to design appear in Rocco's art: the puff of smoke above Choo Choo's smokestack contains a visual summary of the engine's adventures. This is a lovely tribute, both to a marvelous creator of books for children as well as the creative process itself. VERDICT Recommended for most picture book biography collections.--Jennifer Costa, Cambridge Public Library, MACopyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.