TRUE TALES & A CHERRY ON TOP reviews are on the move!

 My picture book biography reviews are on the move!

Please visit my author website for *NEW* True Tales & A Cherry On Top reviews!

I can hardly believe I've reviewed over 200 books!

Check out news and review on my website jeanneharvey.com to read more of my picture book biography reviews, or as I call them...

True Tales with

A Cherry On Top   

which feature ...

A uthors and illustrators
C haracters

 verviews of the books and a...

T antalizing taste

which is the "Cherry on Top" of each review. I include an interesting, intriguing or touching snippet from the Back Matter or a quote that an author or illustrator has shared with me.

And you can always come back here to read any of the previous reviews. Just check out the list in the left column here or search for authors, illustrators, publishers or titles.

Heartfelt thanks to all who have stopped by and shared their thoughts and insights abut the books and reviews so very often! 

Please visit my author website for *NEW* True Tales & A Cherry On Top reviews!


Lady Bird Johnson, That's Who!

The Story of a Cleaner and Greener America

Henry Holt and Company

(pub. 2.23.2021) 

40 pages

A True Tale with

A Cherry On Top   

A uthor: Tracy Nelson Maurer
       and illustrator: Ginnie Hsu
C haracter: Lady Bird Johnson

"Claudia Alta Taylor was a lonely girl, shy as a butterfly growing up in Texas. She never dreamed she'd blossom into a visionary leader whose love for wildflowers, beautiful landscapes, and building community compelled her to lead the effort to combat pollution in the United States. A lifelong environmentalist, Lady Bird Johnson embraced her platform as First Lady to promote policy that beautified America’s roadways, waterways and parks, inspiring people to take pride in the places they live."

T antalizing taste: 

     "Her father, whose work often kept him away from their country house, trusted Lady Bird to roam as she pleased. Alone, Lady Bird explored the blooming meadows, pine forest, and mysterious bayous of nearby Caddo Lake, where garlands of Spanish moss draped the old cypress trees. Her love for the wilderness grew and grew."

 And something more:  In the Author's Note, Tracy Nelson Maurer writes "I hope Lady Bird Johnson's story and her bold commitment to conserving America's natural resources help inspire you to join the effort to keep America beautiful. Together we can make our country a better place for everyone." 

A fitting wish for upcoming Earth Day: "Earth Day's mission is to  diversity, educate and activate the  environmental movement worldwide. In 1970, 20 million Americans mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet. Growing out of this first Earth Day in 1970, Earthday.org is the world's largest recruiter to the environmental movement,  working with more than 750,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our plant."



Four Picture Book Biographies with  ...

A Cherry On Top   

A bout Female Singers

C haracters:   


Aretha Franklin (R-E-S-P-E-C-T- Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul)

Aretha Franklin (A VOICE NAMED ARETHA)

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD)

O verviews:
THE LYRICAL LIFE OF JONI MITCHELL "When Joni Mitchell wrote songs, her lyrics told stories. When she sang, her music spoke the truth.

But before composing more than two hundred songs, Joni was a young girl from a town on the Canadian prairie, where she learned to love dancing, painting, birdsong, and piano. As she grew up into an artist, Joni took her strong feelings—feelings of love and frustration, the pain of having polio, and the turbulence that came with being a young woman—and wrote them into vivid songs."

R-E-S-P-E-C-T- Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul  "Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father’s Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves.

Her string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn’t just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights.
A VOICE NAMED ARETHA "Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, a legend. But before she became a star, she was a shy little girl with a voice so powerful it made people jump up, sway, and hum along. 
Raised in a house full of talking and singing, Aretha learned the values that would carry her through life--from her church choir in Detroit to stages across the world. When she moved to New York City to start her career, it took years of hard work before she had a hit song. In the turbulent 1960s, she sang about "Respect" and refused to perform before segregated audiences. The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha always remembered who she was and where she came from."

      Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused.

      Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are."

T antalizing taste:   

If you'd like to learn more about these 4 picture book biographies about female singers, please visit my complete reviews on this blog to see a "Tantalizing Taste" of text from each book. And also read the"Something More" in each review about what intrigues me regarding each book:

Joni Mitchell (THE LYRICAL LIFE OF JONI MITCHELL) written and illus. by Selina Alko

Aretha Franklin (R-E-S-P-E-C-T- Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul) by Carole Boston Weatherford illus. by Frank Morrison

Aretha Franklin (A VOICE NAMED ARETHA) by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illus. by Laura Freeman

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD) by Vivian Kirkfield and illus. by Alleanna Harris



A Boy Who Loved the Violin -

The Story of Young Itzhak Perlman

Abrams Books for Young Readers

(pub. 5.12.2020) 

40 pages

A True Tale with

A Cherry On Top   

A uthor: Tracy Newman
       and illustrator: Abigail Halpin
C haracter: Itzhak Perlman

    "Before becoming one of the greatest violinists of all time, Itzhak Perlman was simply a boy who loved music. Raised by a poor immigrant family in a tiny Tel Aviv apartment, baby Itzhak was transformed by the sounds from his family’s kitchen radio—graceful classical symphonies, lively klezmer tunes, and soulful cantorial chants. The rich melodies and vibrant rhythms spoke to him like magic, filling his mind with vivid rainbows of color. After begging his parents for an instrument, Itzhak threw his heart and soul into playing the violin. Despite enormous obstacles—including a near-fatal bout of polio that left him crippled for life—Itzhak persevered, honing his extraordinary gift. When he performed on the Ed Sullivan Show at only 13, audiences around the world were mesmerized by the warmth, joy, and passion  in every note." 

T antalizing taste: 

"When Itzhak listened to music, a vivid rainbow of colors appeared in his mind - hues from dark green to red to yellow. Music brought Itzhak intense joy. And tears. Itzhak loved it.

By three, Itzhak knew - he wanted more. He had to make music. Young Itzhak had already chosen the instrument whose magical sound he loved best. He begged his parents for a violin.

But for an immigrant family whose dinner was often a piece of watermelon and some bread, musical instruments were a luxury."

 And something more:  In her Author's Note, Tracy Newman writes: "Performing in music halls that lacked ramps or elevators was a frequent challenge. Itzhak admitted, 'It's like they're telling you, 'Here are our stairs, and you're not welcome here.'' Still Itzhak remained determined to demonstrate that he was capable of being a professional musician... He is dedicated to improving access to public buildings, including hotels, airports, and concert hall. 'It's not a hobby that I happen to do when I'm not playing violin... It's part of what my life is about.'"



Four Picture Book Biographies with  ...

A Cherry On Top   

A bout Asian American Artists

C haracters:   


Tyrus Wong (PAPER SON)



O verviews:
RUTH ASAWA - A Sculpting Life:
"Ruth Asawa believed in making the world a better place. She understood that exposing children to art was one path toward that goal. Form the Japanese-American internment camps to the creation of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, Asawa's life journey is one filled with family, art, injustice, inner strength, education, and arts activism. She drew upon her transformative life experiences and worked with unconventional mediums - using lines, space, and wire to create sculptures that move people to this day."
        "Before he became Tyrus Wong, he was a nine-year-old boy on a ship who left behind his mother and homeland for an unknown place his father called Gold Mountain.
      Before he was the creative force behind Walt Disney's Bambi, he was a school janitor who worked nights, painting the floors with a mop as though it was his paintbrush. 
      Before he mesmerized animators around the world with his unique style and generous spirit, he was a 'paper son.'"
MAYA LIN - Artist Architect of Light and Lines
: "You may be familiar with the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but do you know about the artist-architect who created this landmark?
     As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is a the story of an inspiring American artist."

- How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way:
"From the time she was a little girl, Gyo Fujikawa drew pictures.
     Gyo's parents had come to California from Japan looking for a better life, but sometimes Gyo felt invisible. When high school came, Gyo's teachers recognized her gift for creating beautiful art and got behind her. Art became her profession, and now her drawings were in magazines and store window displays.
     Eventually, Gyo was asked to illustrate picture books for children. She envisioned a diverse cast of characters, explaining that she wanted 'an international set of babies...' in the pages of books.
     Had it ever been done before?
     Not yet."

T antalizing taste:   

If you'd like to learn more about these 4 picture book biographies about Asian American artists, please visit my complete reviews on this blog to see a "Tantalizing Taste" of text from each book. And also read the"Something More" in each review that discusses what intrigues me about each book: 

Ruth Asawa (A SCULPTING LIFE) by Joan Schoettler & illus. Traci Van Wagoner

Tyrus Wong (PAPER SON by Julie Leung & illus. Chris Sasaki

Maya Lin (ARTIST-ARCHITECT OF LIGHT AND LINES) by Jeanne Walker Harvey & illus. Dow Phumurik

Gyo Fujikawa (IT BEGAN WITH A PAGE) by Kyo Maclear & illus. by Julie Morstad




Five Picture Book Biographies with  ...

A Cherry On Top   

A bout Poets & Authors & Libraries 

C haracters:   

Zora Neale Hurston (JUMP AT THE MOON)

Gwendolyn Brooks (EXQUISITE)


Jose Alberto Gutierrez (DIGGING FOR WORDS)


O verviews:

JUMP AT THE MOON - The True Life Tale of Zora Neale Hurston: "Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, 'to jump at de sun' -The True Life Tale of Zora Neale Hurston, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the ground. So Zora jumped from place to place, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn’t been bothered to listen to until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora."
EXQUISITE - The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks: "Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about 'real life.' She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives."

SAVING THE COUNTRYSIDE - The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit:
ething important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished. There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it's been preserved just as she left it."

DIGGING FOR WORDS - Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built: "In the city of Bogata, in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, there live two Joses. One is a boy who dreams of Saturdays-- that's the day he gets to visit Paradise, the library. The second Jose is a garbage collector. From dusk until dawn, he scans the sidewalks as he drives, squinting in the dim light, searching household trash for hidden treasure . . . books! Some are stacked in neat piles, as if waiting for José. Others take a bit more digging. Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, years earlier, he's been collecting books--thick ones and thin ones, worn ones and almost new ones-- to add to the collection in his home. And on Saturdays, kids like little Jose run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with books and wonder."


THE EFFICIENT, INVENTIVE (OFTEN ANNOYING) MELVIL DEWEY: "Melvil Dewey’s love of organization and words at a very early age drove him to develop and implement his Dewey Decimal Classification system, a school to train librarians, inventions to streamline librarians’ work, and more, leaving a significant and lasting impact in libraries throughout the world." 

T antalizing taste:   

If you'd like to learn more about these 5 picture book biographies about poets, authors and libraries, please visit my complete reviews on this blog to see a "Tantalizing Taste" of text from each book. And also read the"Something More" in each review that discusses what intrigues me about each book:

Zora Neale Hurston (JUMP AT THE MOON)

Gwendolyn Brooks (EXQUISITE)


Jose Alberto Gutierrez (DIGGING FOR WORDS)