A Blue Banner Biography Book Reviews

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Booklist, February 1, 2014

On Abby Wambach, Kevin Durant, LL Cool J, and Nicki Minaj

The Blue Banner Biography series features celebrities kids care about. Abby Wambach was always good at soccer. By age 11, she was "heading" balls, and soon she was receiving accolades and winning awards. Abby Wambach follows her career through college play, her professional career, the highs of the World Cup and Olympic games, and the lows of injury. Kevin Durant knew early on that he wanted a basketball career, and his mother encouraged him to commit. Kevin Durant chronicles his steady climb to an early professional career and his ability to make hard work pay off. LL Cool J had a difficult childhood, but music saved him. His willingness to stretch himself is the hallmark of his long career. Nicki Minaj always dreamed of stardom, despite a dangerous upbringing. She knew that the 9-to-5 rat race wasn't for her and used music as the way to a better life. Each biography begins with singular moments in the celebrity's career, well chosen to hook readers. The books then move back to each star's early days and show how perseverance and determination can make dreams come true. The texts often quote articles and interviews, but they don't sound canned. Meanwhile, many color photos add lots of appeal. Although there are no source notes, citations for quotes are woven into the text.

Lane Education Service, December 2008

On Jamie Foxx

This is a well organized biography about how a little boy by the name of Eric Marlon Bishop became a well known actor, Jamie Foxx. Grandparents, who adopted his mother when she was little, raised him. As a schoolboy he loved to make his classmates laugh. His grandmother made sure he attended church every Sunday and that he learned to play the piano. Redd Foxx was one of his favorite comedians and that is why he chose Foxx for this stage name. The book has several photographs. Most show Jamie in various acting roles on film. The book includes a one-page index, a chronology page, and a filmography page.

VOYA, December 2006

On Orlando Bloom and Mariah Carey

For sheer gossipy fun...this new series is sure to hit the spot. The Orlando Bloom biography begins with a description of an accident that the actor suffered at age twenty-one in which he fractured several vertebra and which left doctors questioning if he would be able to walk again. It touches on high points of his career, including his casting as Legolas in the Lord of the Ring movies—something that made the actor a household name. The biography of Mariah Carey likewise starts at a dramatic moment—the singer's well publicized breakdown of 2001—but it covers her early successes and her current comeback. Other titles in the series profile J. K. Rowling, Bernie Mac, Derek Jeter, and Gwen Stefani.

Each volume includes a chronology, bibliography, filmography or discography, and further reading that lists other works, provides works cited, and offers some recommended web sites. Fans of celebrity gossip magazines and shows like VH-1's Behind the Music will find a quick and entertaining read.

South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, Spring 2005

On Queen Latifah

I enjoy Queen Latifah (Dana Owens) as a performer and wanted to know more about her. I felt the "Blue Ribbon" highlights were beneficial for illustrating important points. I also felt the emphasis on women's rights and Ms. Owens' stand against violence on women was given proper due.

School Library Journal, February 2004

On Rudy Giuliani

The format is open, with pull quotes or photos on almost every page, and the tone is encouraging and inspirational.

Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School

On Daniel Radcliffe

This is the true story of the young man who was selected to play Harry Potter in movies that were based on the books by J. K. Rowling. Daniel was born in London in 1989 to parents who were in their 30s and were not interested in producing an actor. Daniel changed his parents' minds with a desire to act beginning at five years of age. Being Harry was not his first acting role, but it was his dream come true. This is an inspiring story of someone who is dedicated to what they want out of life and as such provides a good model for other young readers. This would be an easy read for Daniel's peer group and should be quite popular. This book is a must for any library that includes the Harry Potter collection. Pictures are well reproduced and each page has an enlarged highlight of interest, which makes the page of text a little less daunting. A sturdy binding should make this book good for hundreds of checkouts.