Kids Book Reviews
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend and Goodnight Songs
By Box Brown (First Second, $17.99, teen and up)
Philadelphia native Box Brown, a lifelong pro-wrestling fan (well, at least since fourth grade), gives Andre the Giant his due in this touching but also rough-and-tumble graphic story that, like pro wrestling itself, walks the “fuzzy line between truth and fiction.” Andre, a 7-foot-4-inch giant, is portrayed as a lonely boy too big to ride the school bus, awkward but well meaning and considered a freak whom others foolishly challenged while he didn’t know his own strength. He started his wrestling career in his native France but gained fame in the United States as world and tag team champion, as the first inductee into the WWF Hall of Fame and as an actor (he portrayed Fezzik, the rhyming giant in The Princess Bride). This book shows the personal, vulnerable side of even the most colossal physiques as well as the inner and outer worlds of Andre Roussimoff.
By Margaret Wise Brown (Sterling Books, $17.95, ages 3-6)
Margaret Wise Brown died unexpectedly after a supposedly routine appendectomy in 1952 at the age of 42. Her books, most notably Goodnight Moon, have been in print for more than 60 years. Using different pen names for six different publishers, she was extremely prolific as an author. But near the end of her life she had embarked on writing lyrics for collaborations with Burl Ives and Rosemary Clooney, among other once-famous singers. On her death, the songwriting part of her life was locked away in a trunk and discovered only recently. Set to music with a folk twang by Tom Proutt and Emily Gary (a CD accompanies this book), a dozen of Wise Brown’s lyrics have been depicted by a wide assortment of distinctive, award-winning children’s illustrators. Beyond being a tribute, Goodnight Songs introduces a new audience to an author whose legacy was so rich, it is still being mined for new generations.
Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.