Home Calendar About Us Locations & Hours Reference & Databases News & Weather Hot Titles Kids-Tweens Teens
Coretta Scott King Awards
2017
Click to search this book in our catalog
John Lewis

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-The final installment in the celebrated graphic novel trilogy that documents Congressman Lewis's role in the civil rights movement, this visually arresting volume covers crucial events such as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, with Lewis's resounding voice adding a nuanced, deeply emotional perspective. The personal and the political combine for a historical tour de force. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal This concluding volume of Lewis's wrenching account follows civil rights workers through two years of life-threatening activism until President Lyndon Johnson signs the 1965 Voting Rights Act. -Powell's peerless ink-wash art varies evocatively from eruptions of darkness for bombings to sketchy pales for Lewis's semiconscious state when beaten by state troopers. Essential background for understanding Black Lives Matter. All ages. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 9/1/16) © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In the final installment in the trilogy, Congressman Lewis concludes his firsthand account of the civil rights era. Simultaneously epic and intimate, this dynamic work spotlights pivotal moments (the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL; the Freedom Summer murders; the 1964 Democratic National Convention; and the Selma to Montgomery marches) through the lens of one who was there from the beginning. Lewis's willingness to speak from the heart about moments of doubt and anguish imbues the book with emotional depth. Complex material is tackled but never oversimplified-many pages are positively crammed with text-and, as in previous volumes, discussion of tensions among the various factions of the movement adds nuance and should spark conversation among readers. Through images of steely-eyed police, motion lines, and the use of stark black backgrounds for particularly painful moments, Powell underscores Lewis's statement that he and his cohorts "were in the middle of a war." These vivid black-and-white visuals soar, conveying expressions of hope, scorn, and devastation and making storied figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Fannie Lou Hamer feel three-dimensional and familiar. VERDICT This essential addition to graphic novel shelves, history curricula, and memoir collections will resonate with teens and adults alike.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Opening with the bombing of the Birmingham Baptist Church, this concluding volume in Lewis, Aydin, and Powell's critically acclaimed series highlights the growing violence and tensions among activists in the civil rights movement leading up to Freedom Summer and Johnson's eventual signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As protests and marches and sometimes merely being black in Alabama became increasingly dangerous, opinions among activists in the movement were divided. Continue to march and risk serious harm? Or put their trust in white leaders who were only willing to meet them partway? Though Lewis and Aydin throw a lot at readers in this volume, their message, helped along seamlessly and splendidly by Powell's fantastic, cinematic artwork, is abundantly clear: the victories of the civil rights movement, symbolized in particular by Barack Obama's inauguration, are hard-won and only succeeded through the dogged dedication of a wide variety of people. Perhaps the greatest strength of this last volume is that, despite closing pages during which Lewis suggests the movement is over, the chilling similarities between the violent political atmosphere more than 50 years ago and today remind readers that the drive for justice and equality is ongoing. It's a stirring call to action that's particularly timely in this election year, and one that will resonate and empower young readers in particular. Essential reading.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The final volume of congressman and civil rights crusader Lewis's memoir, produced with cowriter Aydin, gives a perfect balance of clarity and passion, drawing readers into the emotions of civil rights struggles, while carefully providing context and information, as well as empathy, even for the worst of the movement's foes. Beginning with the church bombing at Birmingham, Ala.; moving through the blood-soaked years from 1963 to 1965; and ending with the signing of the Voting Rights Act, Lewis's on-the-ground viewpoint puts many human faces on the historic battles. The narrative reveals the real work of revolution, focusing not just on the well-known events but the behind-the-scenes decision making, compromises, personal battles, sacrifices, and overall political landscape. It's a dense and informative work propelled by Powell's fluid layouts and vivid depictions of violence and emotion, as well as a personal passion that helps make this memoir timely and relevant, drawing a straight line between decades to compare the modern iterations of a struggle that still continues. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Over three centuries of state-sanctioned antiblack terrorism in North America hits a major stumbling block by the end of Congressman Lewis's best-selling, three-volume memoir about civil rights activism, cowritten with politician and comics creator Aydin. Opening with the deadly bombing of a Birmingham, AL, church, this concluding work follows Lewis and collaborators through attempts to get representation at the 1963 Democratic Convention, later witnessing the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the activists' subsequent decision to focus on voting rights for African Americans. Some two years of grueling nonviolent demonstrations and marches follow, many turning into bloody pogroms orchestrated by local lawmen, which build media attention and nationwide public support until President Lyndon Johnson signs the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Throughout, Lewis conveys empathy for the oppressors as well as the oppressed and frankly reveals in-group disagreements. Powell's peerless ink-wash art continues as a perfect vehicle for this drama. Verdict As historical context for today's Black Lives Matter movement, this account of heroism relived, penned with personal and political honesty, is essential reading for tweens through adults, particularly educators and social change activists.-Martha Cornog, Philadelphia © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
2017
Click to search this book in our catalog
Javaka Steptoe

School Library Journal Gr 1-5-Through a simple text and vivid mixed-media collage art, the author evokes the life and work of the Brooklyn-born Basquiat, who was nurtured in a loving family and schooled in the museums and streets of New York City. Incorporating found materials into the illustrations, Steptoe captures the originality and urban vibe of a charismatic artist whose talent revealed itself early on and matured into a powerful social and political voice. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 1-5-A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat. Coretta Scott King Award-winner Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork reflect the Haitian Puerto Rican artist's collage-style paintings that rocketed him to fame in the 1980s. Back matter and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat's work help readers appreciate the layers of Black identity and Yoruba influences at play in Steptoe's illustrations. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 1-5-One extraordinary artist illuminates another in this textured, heartfelt picture book biography of the 1980s cultural phenom. Employing signature features of Jean-Michel Basquiat's work-vibrant colors, found objects, repeated motifs-Steptoe allows his own emotionally rich style to shine through the artistic and biographical references dotting the illustrations. Pieces of discarded wood from Basquiat's stomping grounds fit together to form the painted surfaces for Steptoe's scenes of the Afro Puerto Rican artist, each unfolding within a colored frame. Occasional collage elements of newsprint, photographs, and art materials add dimension and immediacy, highlighting both artists' immersion in their work and surroundings. Adhering to a straightforward chronology, Steptoe addresses events in Basquiat's life primarily as they affected his artistic growth from young boyhood in Brooklyn through the triumphant years as a critical and popular success in Manhattan. With minimal detail, the author sensitively touches upon his subject's childhood car crash and his mother's mental illness, though the story avoids his drug use and stops before his early death. Crucial back matter provides context for readers in every respect. Additional biographical information fleshes out the lyrical text of the main narrative, and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat's work helps readers appreciate the layers at play in Steptoe's illustrations. An author's note articulates feelings that radiate from every page of the book: Steptoe's admiration for and attachment to Basquiat and his personal investment in depicting a complicated, loving relationship between a child and a mentally ill parent. VERDICT Pairing simple text with expressive, encompassing illustrations, this excellent title offers a new generation a fittingly powerful introduction to an artistic luminary.-Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In this visually arresting and vibrantly narrated biography, Steptoe (In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall) charts the childhood of incandescent, ill-fated artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Although the book includes no work by Basquiat himself, Steptoe emulates 1980s street art by layering paint, paper scraps, paint tubes, and photos on found-wood panels. The artist, Steptoe writes, learned to see art in the "messy patchwork of the city," the "street games of little children," and the "terrible blues" of growing up. Basquiat's early influences include his Puerto Rican mother, Matilde, who encourages him with museum visits and with the textbook Gray's Anatomy. Poetry and his Haitian father's jazz records fuel his imagination, too: "His drawings are not neat or clean, nor does he color inside the lines." Basquiat's radiance was suffused with trauma, and Steptoe alludes to Matilde's mental illness and Basquiat's teenage strife ("His mother's mind is not well, and the family breaks"). Passing references to Warhol, Haring, graffiti, and Basquiat's heroin overdose appear in the afterword: "Basquiat lived an exhilarating life, but... he struggled with a drug addiction until his death." Overall, Steptoe focuses on Basquiat's meteoric rise, and readers see the artist smiling as he walks on the gritty Lower East Side. Collaged photographs picture a crowded gallery, and Steptoe concludes in the present tense: "He is now a famous artist!" Steptoe downplays tragic elements, instead celebrating Basquiat's irreverence and brilliance. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Beautifully evoking his subject's exuberant, colorful, and playful art style in jostling paintings on scraps of found wood, Steptoe introduces young readers to Basquiat's childhood and early career. Born in Brooklyn, Basquiat loved art early, and with the encouragement of his similarly artistic mother, he actively pursued his dream of being a famous artist, finding creative inspiration not only at museums but also in the color and rhythm of the city around him. Basquiat's signature style sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still beautiful should appeal in particular to kids who find joy in free-form scribbles, and that same spirit animates Steptoe's collage illustrations. Thickly laid paints and exploded perspectives in bright hues depict scenes from Basquiat's life and highlight some of his iconic imagery, like golden cartoon crowns, eyeballs, and vehicles scattered everywhere. There's no mention of his problems with addiction or untimely death; rather, the book closes with him achieving his dream, crown overhead and surrounded by clipped headlines about his work. A lively, engaging introduction to a one-of-a-kind artist perfect for art-loving kids.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

...More
2017
 
2017
Click to search this book in our catalog
Jason Reynolds
2017
Click to search this book in our catalog
Ashley Bryan
2017
Click to search this book in our catalog
Carole Boston Weatherford
 
2017
Click to search this book in our catalog
C. J. Box
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Rita Williams Garcia
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Troy Andrews
 
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Ronald L. Smith
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Carole Boston Weatherford
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Jason Reynolds
 
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Jason Reynolds

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Matt's mother just died, and his dad isn't coping well, hanging out with the local drunk and downing whiskey, which results in his getting hit by a car and landing in the hospital. Matt is also grieving his mom's death and now he's on his own, until he lands a job at the local funeral home: $15 an hour and Mr. Ray as his boss. Attending other people's funerals helps the teen come to grips with his own grief. Hearing mourners express their real thoughts of suffering at each funeral allows Matt to figure out his own feelings. Mr. Ray is wise and shows up at all the right times to help out the struggling young man, and when Mr. Ray's secrets come to light, he appears even cooler in Matt's eyes. Amid all this, Matt meets Lovey, the girl of his dreams, who is smart, funny, gorgeous, and tough. A mystery intersecting Lovey's life and that of†Matt's best friend, Chris, deepens the plot. Written in a breezy style with complex characters who have real lives, this is another hit for Reynolds, fresh off the success of his When I Was the Greatest (S. & S., 2014). The author's seemingly effortless writing shines in this slice-of-life story, which covers a lot of the protagonist's emotional ground. The realistic setting and character-driven tale keeps readers turning the pages of this winner.-Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, San Leandro, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Ilyasah Shabazz

Publishers Weekly This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, "Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you're just a nigger," or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices. Significant people in Malcolm's life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X's daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm's passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14-up. Agent: (for Shabazz) Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; (for Magoon) Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. The story opens with his departure from Michigan as a teen, though there are flashbacks to his younger years. It follows Malcolm through his time in Boston and Harlem, culminating with his conversion to Islam and his decision to change his name while in prison in 1948. The story does contain some gritty situations, most notably the use of the "n" word, non-graphic sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. This was the reality of Malcolm X's early life, and make the later scenes that more authentic. While the novel stops prior to his rise as a civil rights leader, the excellent back matter provides historical context, bibliography, time line, family tree, and a note from the author (who is also the third of Malcolm X's five daughters). This is an eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author's honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, "Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you're just a nigger," or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices. Significant people in Malcolm's life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X's daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm's passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14-up. Agent: (for Shabazz) Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; (for Magoon) Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

...More
 
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Matt de la Pena
2016
Click to search this book in our catalog
Matt de la Pena
2015
Click to search this book in our catalog
Jacqueline Woodson
 
2015
Click to search this book in our catalog
Christopher Myers
2014
Click to search this book in our catalog
Rita Williams Garcia
2014
Click to search this book in our catalog
written by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier
 
2013 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Publishers Weekly Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man's influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: "[Malcolm X] thought carefully about some of the beliefs he'd held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he'd been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm's attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look 'more white.' " Brian Pinkney's portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama's life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-This book is similar in scope to the author's Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt, 2000. The subjects here include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, all introduced in the author's characteristically lively prose ("Black students kept on keeping on with dog-eared textbooks and dog-tired feet"; Malcolm Little's hair was transformed from "pretty-boy cotton-kink to slick-daddy bone-straight"). The distinct experiences that shaped each man are ably delineated-the childhood events, the hardships faced, the richly deserved victories won-and the results are, without exception, compelling. The large font size is perfect for the middle-grade audience, but too many blocks of unbroken text may turn away less-confident readers. Thankfully, Brian Pinkney's magnificent portraits and spot art throughout each profile help to amplify each man's story. A must-have for all libraries serving young people.-Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens Brother Authors inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together like a chain. Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today's young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text. Surprisingly, Pinkney provides no notes, even though she references both feelings and words in her biographies. For instance, she quotes Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather and his unhappiness over his son's marriage to Ann Dunham without any sourcing. While this is problematic, the book is still a handsome piece of bookmaking that does Pinkney's premise proud.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

...More
2013 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Book list A celebration of Pullman porters is the focus of this new picture-book edition of Langston Hughes' classic poem. The collage spreads, blending oil paintings and cut paper, begin with an image of a speeding train before moving on to large portraits of African American porters serving white passengers aboard a luxury train. When the passengers leave, the porters gather left-behind items newspapers, blues and jazz albums and toss them from the train. Carried by the wind, the words and music fall into the hands of African Americans across the country. The final, contemporary pages show young black people celebrating their place in America and dreaming of a bright future. Collier's long final note explains his interpretation of the poem, and with adult help, kids can look closely at what the pictures show about the porters then and now as well as Collier's visual themes, including the recurring use of stars and stripes, which culminate in a beautiful, final close-up of a boy with his mother staring through a train window today at the starry city sky.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 5-Hughes's poem of burgeoning pride in one's African American identity, written at the height of the Harlem Renaissance in 1925, is interpreted anew in this striking picture book. Collier has visualized the message of the sparely written poem, barely 60 words in length, through the lens of a Pullman porter. "I, too, sing America" proclaims the opening spread that depicts a passenger rail car whizzing by; then, "I am the darker brother" shows an African American young man in the porter's uniform gazing squarely at readers through a faint, translucent overlay of the American flag, a recurring motif. As the porter cleans up the club car and examines the detritus-newspapers, magazines, blues, and jazz albums left by the train's well-heeled passengers-he impulsively flings it all from the caboose, scattering this knowledge to those who will willingly learn from it. Wafting through time and space, these items fall into the hands of a young female field worker in the long-ago South as well as residents in a contemporary northern urban landscape. The poem's powerful conclusion-"I, too, am America"-depicts a young boy on the subway with his mother, peering out the window through a readily visible flag toward his unknown but hopeful future. Collier's signature mixed-media collages create bold, textured images that give tangible expression to the poet's potent words. A memorable and multilayered volume for all libraries.-Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Caldecott Honor artist Collier (Dave the Potter) uses Hughes's well-known poem as text for a visual history of Pullman railway porters, one of the first jobs that offered African-American men steady pay, dignity, and a ladder into the middle class. Hughes's lines-"They send me to eat in the kitchen/ When company comes,/ But I laugh,/ And eat well,/ And grow strong"-fit beautifully with the story of the porters, giving the poem new meaning and impact. Collier's portraits of the porters at work alternate with bold, sweeping spreads of cotton fields, onto which a porter scatters discarded books and magazines, planting knowledge along the railway lines. The story travels from South to North and from old to new, ending in Harlem, where a contemporary African-American mother rides in a subway car, her son gazing out the window. In the next spread, he's seen in startling closeup, parting and peering between the stripes of an all-but-invisible American flag. "I, too, am America," he says. It's a powerful metaphor for looking at African-American history-and the issue of race in America-from the inside out. Ages 4-8. Agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick and Pratt Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

...More
2012 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Kadir Nelson

Publishers Weekly As in We Are the Ship, Nelson knits together the nation's proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama. He handles this vast subject with easy grace, aided by the voice of a grandmotherly figure who's an amalgam of voices from Nelson's own family. She does not gloss over the sadness and outrage of her family's history, but her patient, sometimes weary tone ("The law didn't do a thing to stop it," she says about the Ku Klux Klan. "Shoot, some of the men wearing the sheets were lawmen") makes listeners feel the quiet power that survival requires. In jaw-dropping portraits that radiate determination and strength, Nelson paints heroes like Frederick Douglass and Joe Louis, conferring equal dignity on the slaves, workers, soldiers, and students who made up the backbone of the African-American community. The images convey strength and integrity as he recounts their contributions, including "the most important idea ever introduced to America by an African American"-Dr. King's nonviolent protest. A tremendous achievement. Ages 9-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Nelson, the creator of We Are the Ship (2008), recipient of both a Coretta Scott King Author Award and a Robert F. Siebert Medal, adds to his notable titles with this powerful view of African American history. Illustrated with 44 full-page paintings, including both portraits and panoramic spreads, this handsome volume is told in the fictionalized, informal voice of an African American senior looking back on her life and remembering what her elders told her. The tone is intimate, even cozy, as the speaker addresses a contemporary honey chile and shares historical accounts that sometimes take a wry view of inequality: about a journey north, for example, she observes that Jim Crow has made the trip right along with us. Grim struggle is always present in her telling, though, and the passages include the horror of race riots, illustrated with a terrifying painting of a burning cross. With such a broad time frame, there is a lot to fit into a100 or so pages, but Nelson effectively captures the roles of ordinary people in landmark events ( We called ourselves the Freedom Riders ) while presenting famous leaders who changed the world, from Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks to Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and, finally, President Barack Obama. A detailed time line and a bibliography of books and DVDs closes this powerful, accessible history which will find wide circulation in both schools and public libraries.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-Expanding his focus from the close-up view of history applied in previous books, Nelson uses his formidable skills for the larger landscape: the black experience in America from slavery to the presidency. Like most surveys, the book is organized by struggles and wars; unlike traditional overviews, the facts are filtered through the eyes of a black woman with attitude to spare. This invented narrator, whose "Pap" was kidnapped as a child in Africa and whose brothers fought in World War II, does not suffer fools. Her colloquial commentary, addressed to "honey" or "chile," introduces and interprets the events. Occasionally her voice drops out, and a more textbooklike tone prevails, but mostly her presence provides the heart and soul of the story; readers will care about this information because they care about her. Nelson's oil portraits and tableaux consistently display technical virtuosity, drama, and dignity. From single-page compositions of historical personalities (Frederick Douglass, Joe Louis, Rosa Parks) and representative characters (a Revolutionary War soldier, students at Woolworth's) to full-spread, murallike scenes of a slave ship, a battle, a big band, Nelson varies the viewpoint and contrasts light and darkness to tell a riveting tale. The purpose is presented in the prologue and recast in the epilogue and author's note: "You have to know where you came from so you can move forward." Provocative and powerful, this book offers a much-needed perspective for individuals of all ages seeking to understand America's past and present.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-An unnamed narrator of a collection of family stories relates stirring accounts of relatives who fought by George Washington's side, worked in fields and factories, and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Electrifying portraits shed light on the triumphs and tragedies of our nation's history as reflected in the faces of its people. (Sept.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
 
2012 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-A stellar introduction to the Underground Railroad, narrated by a group of slaves. Readers experience the fugitives' escape, their long nighttime journey punctuated by meetings with friends and enemies, and their final glorious arrival in a place of freedom. Evans boils the raw emotion of the experience down to the most compressed statements, both mirroring the minimal opportunities for expression during the secret journey and also creating a narrative that invites even the youngest listeners to visit this challenging subject. For this reason, the text may be read as is to preschool audiences, while the abbreviated prose may also generate a rich discussion for older students. Evans writes simply: "The darkness..../We are quiet./The fear./We run." Appropriately, the narration is told from a group perspective, which reflects the broader experience of enslaved African Americans-a theme continued in his full-bleed illustrations of figures cloaked in the anonymity of night. Though subdued in palette until the eruption of color as the figures reach the threshold of freedom, the author's collaged nocturnal paintings shimmer with an arresting luminescence. Two constants leap out from almost every page: the stars above and the bright, fearful eyes of the fugitives. When the travelers at last lift a newborn baby to the rising sun, readers celebrate along with the protagonists.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 3-In this visual tour de force, darkness becomes a protective blanket, hiding "passengers" on the Underground Railroad as they huddle, crawl, and flee to safety. The family members' fear and determination are palpable as is the warming glow of the sun at journey's end. (Jan.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list The darkness. / The escape. / We are quiet. / The fear . . . / We run. / We crawl. With just two or three words on each double-page spread, the minimalist text is intense in this stirring picture book about a family's escape from slavery. Dramatic, unframed, mixed-media illustrations, rendered in black lines and dark shades of midnight blue, show a child's view of fleeing and hiding in the night, when the only light is in the starry sky. Then there is the lantern of a safe house, but also of a slave catcher. Finally, freedom comes at last with the glorious color of the sun's light, and the art extends the wordplay in an image of a joyful family holding up their own son a baby boy born in freedom. A long appended note offers more historical context, and young readers can go on from here to other picture-book accounts of families torn apart by slavery and those saved by rescuers on the Underground Railroad.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly With haunting pictures and a few simple sentences, Evans (Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson) introduces beginning readers to a crucial piece of American history. In darkness lit mainly by moonlight, a slave family is seen sneaking away from a plantation, passing a sleeping overseer ("We are quiet"), creeping through shrubbery, and being greeted by a woman in a skirt and cap holding a lantern high ("We make new friends"). The eyes of the slaves shine with doubt and fear. Dense groupings of figures give a sense of immediacy, and rough charcoal lines echo the rugged paths the group travels. Difficult moments are handled with restraint: "Some don't make it," one page says, as a man with a rifle holds a defeated-looking slave. The slaves press on; the dawn that breaks around them is a metaphor for freedom. A man cradles a pregnant woman ("We are almost there"), and on the next page, he holds a swaddled newborn up to the shining sun in triumph. Telling the story without overwhelming readers is a delicate task, but Evans walks the line perfectly. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

...More
2011 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Rita Williams Garcia

Publishers Weekly Williams-Garcia (Jumped) evokes the close-knit bond between three sisters, and the fervor and tumultuousness of the late 1960s, in this period novel featuring an outspoken 11-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y. Through lively first-person narrative, readers meet Delphine, whose father sends her and her two younger sisters to Oakland, Calif., to visit their estranged mother, Cecile. When Cecile picks them up at the airport, she is as unconventional as Delphine remembers ("There was something uncommon about Cecile. Eyes glommed onto her. Tall, dark brown woman in man's pants whose face was half hidden by a scarf, hat, and big dark shades. She was like a colored movie star"). Instead of taking her children to Disneyland as they had hoped, Cecile shoos them off to the neighborhood People's Center, run by members of the Black Panthers. Delphine doesn't buy into all of the group's ideas, but she does come to understand her mother a little better over the summer. Delphine's growing awareness of injustice on a personal and universal level is smoothly woven into the story in poetic language that will stimulate and move readers. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

...More
2011 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill

School Library Journal K-Gr 4-The life of an astonishingly prolific and skilled potter who lived and died a slave in 19th-century South Carolina is related in simple, powerful sentences that outline the making of a pot. The movements of Dave's hands are described using familiar, solid verbs: pulling, pinching, squeezing, pounding. Rural imagery-a robin's puffed breast, a carnival wheel-remind readers of Dave's surroundings. The pithy lines themselves recall the short poems that Dave inscribed on his pots. Collier's earth-toned watercolor and collage art extends the story, showing the landscape, materials, and architecture of a South Carolina farm. Alert readers will find hidden messages in some of the collages, but what stands out in these pictures are Dave's hands and eyes, and the strength of his body, reflected in the shape and size of his legendary jars and pots. A lengthy author's note fleshes out what is known of the man's life story and reproduces several of his two-line poems. A photograph of some of Dave's surviving works cements the book's link to the present and lists of print and online resources encourage further exploration. An inspiring story, perfectly presented and sure to prompt classroom discussion and projects. Outstanding in every way.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list As a closing essay explains, little is known about the man known as Dave the potter. Two things are certain, though: he was a slave in South Carolina, and he was a potter of uncommon skill. As Hill writes, Dave was one of only two potters at the time who could successfully make pots that were larger than twenty gallons. He also inscribed strange, sophisticated poetry into the clay: I wonder where / is all my relation / friendship to all / and, every nation. The verses Hill uses to introduce us to Dave are sometimes just as evocative: On wet days, / heavy with rainwater, / it is cool and squishy, / mud pie heaven. The book's quiet dignity comes from its refusal to scrutinize life as a slave; instead, it is nearly a procedural, following Dave's mixing, kneading, spinning, shaping, and glazing. Collier's gorgeous watercolor-and-collage illustrations recall the work of E. B. Lewis earth-toned, infused with pride, and always catching his subjects in the most telling of poses. A beautiful introduction to a great lost artist.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

...More
 
2010 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Book list Nelson and Christie know the proper way to open a western with a showdown. Young readers first see outlaw Jim Webb bursting through a glass window; then lawman Bass Reeves' eye sighting down the barrel of his Winchester rifle. After that, kids will have no trouble loping into this picture-book biography. Born a slave, Reeves became one of the most feared and respected Deputy U.S. Marshals to tame the West. Nelson's anecdotal account gives this criminally overlooked frontier hero the same justice that Gary Paulsen did in his book for slightly older readers, The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006). The text, especially, gets into the tall-tale spirit of things ( Bass had a big job. And it suited him right down to the ground. Everything about him was big. ), while the dramatic scenes captured in Christie's stately artwork promise revisitations to the lawman's story. An exciting subject captured with narrative panache and visual swagger, Bass Reeves stands to finally gain his share of adulation from kids drawn to the rough-and-tumble Old West.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly With lively language and anecdotes, Nelson (Juneteenth) chronicles the life of African-American lawman Bass Reeves in a biography that elevates him to folk hero. The story opens with an action-packed sequence leading to Reeves killing criminal Jim Webb. The second spread has readers staring down the barrel of Reeves's rifle, in an attention-grabbing, somewhat unsettling closeup. As Webb lay dying, he "gave Bass his revolver out of respect. Bass buried Webb's body and turned in the outlaw's boots and gun belt as proof he'd gotten his man." Christie's (Yesterday I Had the Blues) dynamic full-page oil paintings portray a somber, statuesque Reeves, his big eyes shining from under the brim of his deputy's hat. The folksy language is heavy with simile ("Bass took to guns like a bear to honey") and jargon (vittles, slack-jawed cowpoke), inviting a drawly reading. It's an arresting portrait of a man who rose from escaped slave in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to become a federal marshal who made thousands of arrests, including his own son, but killed only 14 men. A glossary, bibliography, time line and other source material are included. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 3-8-Reeves is an unsung hero of the American West whose honesty and sense of duty are an inspiration to all. In a frontier brimming with treachery and lawlessness, this African-American peace officer stood out as a fearless figure of unparalleled integrity, arresting more than 3,000 outlaws during his 32 years of service as a deputy U.S. marshal, all without suffering an injury. He was a former slave who became a successful farmer and family man before accepting the appointment to serve as a lawman in the Indian Territory in 1875. While Gary Paulsen's The Legend of Bass Reeves (Random, 2006) mixes fact and fiction to great effect, Nelson chooses to keep her telling as close to documented research as possible. Selected anecdotes ranging from a humorous encounter with a skunk to an intense gunfight with an outlaw provide a sense of the man's courage and character. The text is chock-full of colorful turns of phrase that will engage readers who don't "cotton to" nonfiction (a glossary of "Western Words" is included). Christie's memorable paintings convey Reeves's determination and caring, while rugged brushstrokes form the frontier terrain. Youngsters will find much to admire here.-Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
2010 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes

School Library Journal K Up-Smith's knack for pairing poetry and photography is well documented in books such as Hoop Queens (Candlewick, 2003) and Rudyard Kipling's If (S & S, 2006). Here, his artful images engage in a lyrical and lively dance with Langston Hughes's brief ode to black beauty. Dramatic sepia portraits of African Americans-ranging from a cherubic, chubby-cheeked toddler to a graying elder whose face is etched with lines-are bathed in shadows, which melt into black backgrounds. The 33 words are printed in an elegant font in varying sizes as emphasis dictates. In order to maximize the effect of the page turn and allow time for meaning to be absorbed, the short phrases and their respective visual narratives often spill over more than a spread. The conclusion offers a montage of faces created with varying exposures, a decision that provides a light-filled aura and the irregularities that suggest historical prints. A note from Smith describes his approach to the 1923 poem. This celebration of the particular and universal will draw a wide audience: storytime participants; students of poetry, photography, and cultural studies; seniors; families. A timely and timeless offering.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Some 86 years after its original publication, Langston Hughes' poem My People finds celebratory interpretation in Charles R. Smith Jr.'s elegant sepia photography. Echoing the graceful simplicity of Hughes' verses, Smith's pictures capture African American faces of every size, shape, age, and hue, their countenances shining out from fields of glossy black. The expressions are as varied and captivating as the subjects, from crying babies to radiant children and adults. The pages outnumber the words, 40 to 33, allowing the text, printed in gold, to sweep across the darkness with the titular refrain. In an endnote, Smith shares the questions he asked himself as he began his photographic interpretation, noting Hughes' intent to celebrate the pride he had for his black brothers and sisters. In the aspects that he has captured, and their artful arrangement across the page, he does just that.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly "At just thirty-three words total, [this] poem is a study in simplicity," writes Smith (Rimshots; If); in its visual simplicity, his picture-book presentation is a tour de force. Introducing the poem two or three words at a time, Smith pairs each phrase with a portrait of one or more African-Americans; printed in sepia, the faces of his subjects materialize on black pages. "The night," reads the opening spread, across from an image of a man's face, his eyes shut; "is beautiful," continues the next spread, showing the same face, now with eyes open and a wide smile. The text, sized big to balance the portraits, shows up in hues that range from white to tan to brown-black, reflecting Smith's reading that "the words celebrate black people of differing shades and ages." An inventive design adds a short, shadowed row or column of small portraits to the edge of many spreads; these quietly reinforce the concept of "my people." Whether of babies, children or adults, Smith's faces emerge into the light, displaying the best that humanity has to offer-intelligence, wisdom, curiosity, love and joy. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

...More
2009 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
words and paintings by Kadir Nelson ; foreward by Hank Aaron.

Publishers Weekly In his first outing as author as well as illustrator, Nelson (Ellington Was Not a Street) delivers a history of the Negro Leagues in a sumptuous volume that no baseball fan should be without. Using a folksy vernacular, a fictional player gives an insider account of segregated baseball, explaining the aggressive style of play ("Those fellows would bunt and run you to death. Drove pitchers crazy!") and recalling favorite players. Of Satchel Paige, he says, "Even his slow stuff was fast." As illuminating as the text is, Nelson's muscular paintings serve as the true draw. His larger-than-life players have oversized hands, elongated bodies and near-impossible athleticism. Their lined faces suggest the seriousness with which they took their sport and the circumstances under which they were made to play it. A gatefold depicting the first "Colored World Series" is particularly exquisite-a replica ticket opens from the gutter to reveal the entire line-ups of both teams. And while this large, square book (just a shade smaller than a regulation-size base) succeeds as coffee-table art, it soars as a tribute to the individuals, like the legendary Josh Gibson, who was ultimately elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame without ever playing in the major leagues. As Nelson's narrator says, "We had many Josh Gibsons in the Negro Leagues.... But you never heard about them. It's a shame the world didn't get to see them play." Ages 8-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Gr 3 Up-In this attractive, oversized book, Nelson offers an appreciative tribute to the Negro Leagues. Adopting the perspective and voice of an elderly ballplayer, he offers a readable account that is infused with an air of nostalgic oral history: "Seems like we've been playing baseball for a mighty long time. At least as long as we've been free." With African Americans banned from playing in the major leagues, Rube Foster organized the Negro Leagues in 1920 and grandly proclaimed: "We are the ship; all else the sea." From 1920 through the 1940s, they offered African Americans an opportunity to play ball and earn a decent living when opportunities to do so were scarce. Nine chapters offer an overview of the founding and history of the leagues, the players, style of play, and the league's eventual demise after Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball's color barrier in 1947. Nelson's brilliant, almost iconic paintings vividly complement his account. Starting with the impressive cover painting of a proud, determined Josh Gibson, the artist brings to light the character and inherent dignity of his subjects. Hank Aaron, who started his Hall of Fame career in the Negro Leagues, contributes a heartfelt foreword. This work expands on the excellent overview offered in Carole Boston Weatherford's A Negro League Scrapbook (Boyds Mills, 2005). It is an engaging tribute that should resonate with a wide audience and delight baseball fans of all ages.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list *Starred Review* Award-winning illustrator and first-time author Nelson's history of the Negro Leagues, told from the vantage point of an unnamed narrator, reads like an old-timer regaling his grandchildren with tales of baseball greats Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and others who forged the path toward breaking the race barrier before Jackie Robinson made his historic debut. The narrative showcases the pride and comradery of the Negro Leagues, celebrates triumphing on one's own terms and embracing adversity, even as it clearly shows the us and them mentality bred by segregation. If the story is the pitch, though, it's the artwork that blasts the book into the stands. Nelson often works from a straight-on vantage point, as if the players took time out of the action to peer at the viewer from history, eyes leveled and challenging, before turning back to the field of play. With enormous blue skies and jam-packed grandstands backing them, these players look like the giants they are. The stories and artwork are a tribute to the spirit of the Negro Leaguers, who were much more than also-rans and deserve a more prominent place on baseball's history shelves. For students and fans (and those even older than the suggested grade level), this is the book to accomplish just that.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

...More
 
2009 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
by Joyce Carol Thomas ; illustrated by Floyd Cooper.
2008 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Ashley Bryan

Publishers Weekly Bryan (Beautiful Blackbird) again proves himself a maestro with scissors (depicted on the endpages) in a series of arresting, kaleidoscopic cut-construction-paper collages that interprets three beloved spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Each page contains two lines of lyrics alongside images of nature or of children and adults with diverse skin tones frolicking harmoniously in settings both urban and pastoral. This wide spectrum of experiences suggests the songs' themes of utopian peace, tolerance and beauty. The hands appearing on the pages of "He's Got the Whole World..." convey a sense of power, reassurance and awe that evoke the wonders of God. An author's note describes a bit of the origin and history of Negro spirituals. Musical notations for each song are included at book's end. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list The inspiring words of three well-known spirituals, This Little Light of Mine, Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In, and He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, are matched with powerful construction-paper collage illustrations. Each double-page spread of this oversize picture book is an explosion of shapes and bright colors. Stocky figures, silhouetted against swirling colors are created from geometric shapes woven together. Rather than conceive a story to accompany the lyrics, Bryan presents series of scenes to reflect each set of lyrics. Children dance around with candles and march with saints; God holds a world of colored objects in his hands. The musical notation and lyrics for each song appear at the end of the book, as does a brief note from Bryan about the history of the spiritual and the changes he made in some of the lyrics. This will be hard to read without breaking into song. --Randall Enos Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 5-Bryan's vibrant illustrations interpret and energize three beloved songs: "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Although the artistic style is similar to that in All Night, All Day (Atheneum, 1991), here Bryan uses intricate cut-paper collages to accompany the lines of text at the bottom of the pages. Energy and movement course through many of the full-bleed illustrations, as when children-depicted in rainbow-colored silhouettes-use a boat, an airplane, a bicycle, and other means to carry their lights "Ev'ry where I go." At other times, the images offer comfort and security, as large multicolored hands embrace the world's wonders and "the little bitty baby" is cradled in an adult's protective arms. Simple melody lines and an explanation of the origin and importance of spirituals are appended. Yet, Bryan's illustrations demonstrate more than words the dynamic inspiration that these songs still provide. Readers will find themselves humming as they turn the pages.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

...More
2008 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Christopher Paul Curtis

Book list *Starred Review* After his mother rebukes him for screaming that hoop snakes have invaded Buxton, gullible 11-year-old Elijah confesses to readers that there ain't nothing in the world she wants more than for me to quit being so doggone fra-gile. Inexperienced and prone to mistakes, yet kind, courageous, and understanding, Elijah has the distinction of being the first child born in the Buxton Settlement, which was founded in Ontario in 1849 as a haven for former slaves. Narrator Elijah tells an episodic story that builds a broad picture of Buxton's residents before plunging into the dramatic events that take him out of Buxton and, quite possibly, out of his depth. In the author's note, Curtis relates the difficulty of tackling the subject of slavery realistically through a child's first-person perspective. Here, readers learn about conditions in slavery at a distance, though the horrors become increasingly apparent. Among the more memorable scenes are those in which Elijah meets escaped slaves first, those who have made it to Canada and, later, those who have been retaken by slave catchers. Central to the story, these scenes show an emotional range and a subtlety unusual in children's fiction. Many readers drawn to the book by humor will find themselves at times on the edges of their seats in suspense and, at other moments, moved to tears. A fine, original novel from a gifted storyteller.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2007 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Elijah Freeman, 11, has two claims to fame. He was the first child "born free" to former slaves in Buxton, a (real) haven established in 1849 in Canada by an American abolitionist. The rest of his celebrity, Elijah reports in his folksy vernacular, stems from a "tragical" event. When Frederick Douglass, the "famousest, smartest man who ever escaped from slavery," visited Buxton, he held baby Elijah aloft, declaring him a "shining bacon of light and hope," tossing him up and down until the jostled baby threw up-on Douglass. The arresting historical setting and physical comedy signal classic Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy), but while Elijah's boyish voice represents the Newbery Medalist at his finest, the story unspools at so leisurely a pace that kids might easily lose interest. Readers meet Buxton's citizens, people who have known great cruelty and yet are uncommonly polite and welcoming to strangers. Humor abounds: Elijah's best friend puzzles over the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" and decides it's about sexual reproduction. There's a rapscallion of a villain in the Right Reverend Deacon Doctor Zephariah Connerly the Third, a smart-talking preacher no one trusts, and, after 200 pages, a riveting plot: Zephariah makes off with a fortune meant to buy a family of slaves their freedom. Curtis brings the story full-circle, demonstrating how Elijah the "fra-gile" child has become sturdy, capable of stealing across the border in pursuit of the crooked preacher, and strong enough to withstand a confrontation with the horrors of slavery. The powerful ending is violent and unsettling, yet also manages to be uplifting. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman has two claims to fame: he was the first free black to have been born in Buxton, an actual settlement in Canada established in 1849 by the abolitionist Reverend William King; and, during his infancy, he threw up all over the visiting Frederick Douglass. Elijah is an engaging protagonist, and whether he is completing his chores or lamenting his Latin studies or experiencing his first traveling carnival, his descriptions are full of charm and wonder. Although his colloquial language may prove challenging for some readers, it brings an authenticity and richness to the story that is well worth the extra effort that it might require. While some of the neighbors believe Elijah to be rather simple, and even his mother tends to overprotect her "fra-gile" boy, his true character shines out when a disaster occurs in the close community. Elijah's neighbor, Mr. Leroy, has been saving money for years to buy freedom for his wife and children who are still in the U.S. When this money is stolen, Elijah blames himself for inadvertently helping the thief and, risking capture by slave catchers, crosses the border into Detroit to get it back. His guileless recounting of the people he meets and the horrors he sees will allow readers to understand the dangers of the Underground Railroad without being overwhelmed by them. Elijah's decisions along the way are not easy ones, but ultimately lead to a satisfying conclusion. Curtis's talent for dealing with painful periods of history with grace and sensitivity is as strong as ever.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

...More
 
2007 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Sharon Draper

Book list Gr. 9-12. Best known for her contemporary African American characters, Draper's latest novel is a searing work of historical fiction that imagines a 15-year-old African girl's journey through American slavery. The story begins in Amari's Ashanti village, but the idyllic scene explodes in bloodshed when slavers arrive and murder her family. Amari and her beloved, Besa, are shackled, and so begins the account of impossible horrors from the slave fort, the Middle Passage, and auction on American shores, where a rice plantation owner buys Amari for his 16-year-old son's sexual enjoyment. In brutal specifics, Draper shows the inhumanity: Amari is systematically raped on the slave ship and on the plantation and a slave child is used as alligator bait by white teenagers. And she adds to the complex history in alternating chapters that flip between Amari and Polly, an indentured white servant on Amari's plantation. A few plot elements, such as Amari's chance meeting with Besa, are contrived. But Draper builds the explosive tension to the last chapter, and the sheer power of the story, balanced between the overwhelmingly brutal facts of slavery and Amari's ferocious survivor's spirit, will leave readers breathless, even as they consider the story's larger questions about the infinite costs of slavery and how to reconcile history. A moving author's note discusses the real places and events on which the story is based. Give this to teens who have read Julius Lester's Day of Tears (2005). --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-This action-packed, multifaceted, character-rich story describes the shocking realities of the slave trade and plantation life while portraying the perseverance, resourcefulness, and triumph of the human spirit. Amari is a 15-year-old Ashanti girl who is happily anticipating her marriage to Besa. Then, slavers arrive in her village, slaughter her family, and shatter her world. Shackled, frightened, and despondent, she is led to the Cape Coast where she is branded and forced onto a "boat of death" for the infamous Middle Passage to the Carolinas. There, Percival Derby buys her as a gift for his son's 16th birthday. Trust and friendship develop between Amari and Polly, a white indentured servant, and when their mistress gives birth to a black baby, the teens try to cover up Mrs. Derby's transgression. However, Mr. Derby's brutal fury spurs them to escape toward the rumored freedom of Fort Mose, a Spanish colony in Florida. Although the narrative focuses alternately on Amari and Polly, the story is primarily Amari's, and her pain, hope, and determination are acute. Cruel white stereotypes abound except for the plantation's mistress, whose love is colorblind; the doctor who provides the ruse for the girls' escape; and the Irish woman who gives the fugitives a horse and wagon. As readers embrace Amari and Polly, they will better understand the impact of human exploitation and suffering throughout history. In addition, they will gain a deeper knowledge of slavery, indentured servitude, and 18th-century sanctuaries for runaway slaves.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Draper's (Forged by Fire) historical novel takes on an epic sweep as it chronicles the story of 15-year-old Amari, kidnapped from her African village in 1738 and sold into sexual slavery in South Carolina. The horrors of the kidnapping-Amari's parents and little brother are murdered before her eyes-and the Atlantic crossing unwind in exhaustive detail, but the material seems familiar. The story doesn't really take off until Amari reaches her new "home," a rice plantation run by a Snidely Whiplash clone, who presents her to his evil-to-the-core son as a birthday gift. Befriended by the wise cook, a white indentured girl named Polly and the beleaguered mistress of the household, Amari eventually and improbably finds a way to escape. Draper has obviously done her homework, but the narrative wears its research heavily. Every bad thing that befell an African slave either happens to or is witnessed by Amari (e.g., Africans eaten by sharks, children used as live alligator bait, an infant shot dead out of spite). Rape is constant. These lurid elements may appeal to reluctant readers who would normally shy away from historical fiction, but they unfortunately push the story to the brink of melodrama. The author also pulls her punches with a highly implausible happy ending. But after all that Amari has gone through, readers will likely find the conclusion a huge relief. Ages 14-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

...More
2007 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Carole Boston Weatherford

Book list Weatherford's handsome picture book about Harriet Tubman focuses mostly on Tubman's religious inspiration, with echoes of spirituals ringing throughout the spare poetry about her struggle ("Lord, don't let nobody turn me 'round"). God cradles Tubman and talks with her; his words (printed in block capitals) both inspire her and tell her what to do ("SHED YOUR SHOES; WADE IN THE WATER TO TRICK THE DOGS"). Nelson's stirring, beautiful artwork makes clear the terror and exhaustion Tubman felt during her own escape and also during her brave rescue of others. There's no romanticism: the pictures are dark, dramatic, and deeply colored--whether showing the desperate young fugitive "crouched for days in a potato hole" or the tough middle-aged leader frowning at the band of runaways she's trying to help. The full-page portrait of a contemplative Tubman turning to God to help her guide her people is especially striking. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this gorgeous, poetic picture book, Weatherford (The Sound that Jazz Makes) depicts Harriet Tubman's initial escape from slavery and her mission to lead others to freedom as divinely inspired, and achieved by steadfast faith and prayer. The author frames the text as an ongoing dialogue between Tubman and God, inserting narration to move the action along. On the eve of her being sold and torn from her family, Tubman prays in her despair. In response, "God speaks in a whip-poor-will's song. `I set the North Star in the heavens and I mean for you to be free.' " The twinkling star encourages Tubman: "My mind is made up. Tomorrow, I flee." The book's elegant design clearly delineates these elements Harriet's words in italic, God's calming words in all caps drifting across the pages, the narrator's words in roman typeface and makes this read like a wholly engrossing dramatic play. Nelson's (He's Got the Whole World in His Hands) finely rendered oil and watercolor paintings, many set in the rural inky darkness of night, give his protagonist a vibrant, larger-than-life presence, befitting a woman who became known as the Moses of her people. His rugged backdrops and intense portraits convey all the emotion of Tubman's monumental mission. A foreword introduces the concept of slavery for children and an author's note includes a brief biography of Tubman. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Gr 2-5-Tubman's religious faith drives this handsome, poetic account of her escape to freedom and role in the Underground Railroad. The story begins with Tubman addressing God on a summer night as she is about to be sold south from the Maryland plantation where she and her husband live: "I am Your child, Lord; yet Master owns me,/drives me like a mule." In resounding bold text, God tells her He means for her to be free. The story is sketched between passages of prayerful dialogue that keep Tubman from giving up and eventually call upon her to be "the Moses of [her] people." Deep scenes of night fill many double pages as the dramatic paintings follow her tortuous journey, arrival in Philadelphia, and later trip to guide others. Shifting perspectives and subtle details, such as shadowy forest animals guarding her while she sleeps, underscore the narrative's spirituality. Whether filled with apprehension, determination, or serenity, Tubman's beautifully furrowed face is expressive and entrancing. A foreword briefly explains the practice of slavery and an appended note outlines Tubman's life. The words and pictures create a potent sense of the harsh life of slavery, the fearsome escape, and one woman's unwavering belief in God.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

...More
2006 (Author)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Julius Lester

Book list Gr. 6-9. From his first book, To Be a Slave (1968), Lester has told the history of slavery through personal accounts that relay the dehumanizing message of the perpetrators. Here he draws on historical sources to fictionalize a real event: the biggest slave auction in American history, which took place in Savannah, Georgia, in 1859. He imagines the individual voices of many who were there, adults and kids, including several slaves up for sale, the auctioneer, and the white masters and their families buying and selling the valuable merchandise. The huge cast speaks in the present tense and sometimes from the future looking back. A note fills in the facts. The horror of the auction and its aftermath is unforgettable; individuals whom the reader has come to know are handled like animals, wrenched from family, friends, and love. Then there's a sales list with names, ages, and the amount taken in for each person. Brave runaways speak; so does an abolitionist who helps them. Those who are not heroic are here, too, and the racism is virulent (there's widespread use of the n-word). The personal voices make this a stirring text for group discussion. Older readers may want to go on from here to the nonfiction narratives in Growing Up in Slavery (see adjacent review). --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-This powerful and engaging historical novel is told in dialogue and through monologues. It also moves around in time, from the period when the story takes place to "interludes," in which the various characters look back on these events years later. It begins with a factual event-the largest slave auction in United States history that took place in 1859 on Pierce Butler's plantation in Georgia. The book introduces Butler, his abolitionist ex-wife Fanny Kemble, their two daughters, the auctioneer, and a number of slaves sold to pay off Butler's gambling debts. Emma, a fictional house slave, is the centerpiece of the novel. She cares for the master's daughters and has been promised that she will never be sold. On the last day of the auction, Butler impulsively sells her to a woman from Kentucky. There she marries, runs away, and eventually gains her freedom in Canada. Lester has done an admirable job of portraying the simmering anger and aching sadness that the slaves must have felt. Each character is well drawn and believable. Both blacks and whites liberally use the word "nigger," which will be jarring to modern-day students. The text itself is easy to read and flows nicely. Different typefaces distinguish the characters' monologues, their dialogues with one another, and their memories. Still, middle school readers may have some difficulty following the plot until they get used to the unusual format. Altogether this novel does a superb job of showing the inhumanity of slavery. It begs to be read aloud, and it could be used in sections to produce some stunning reader's theatre.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Unfolding like a play, Lester's novel in dialogue-based on actual events-cannot help but be informed by his research and writing for his 1969 Newbery Honor book, To Be a Slave. In many ways, the scenes here beg to be dramatized upon a stage; many sections read like monologues, but each contributes to a powerful whole. Some readers may initially have trouble connecting Emma, the children's nursemaid, to her parents, Mattie and Will, the master's manservant. As the book progresses, however, the relationships become crystal clear. The book opens as, in Mattie's words, "The rain is coming down as hard as regret." Master Butler is about to hold an auction to sell off 429 slaves in order to repay a gambling debt. Other details unfold, as Will mentions how he and Master Butler grew up together ("He used to look up to me like I was his big brother"); Emma mentions that Mistress Fannie left her husband a year before, and an author's note explains that Fannie Kemble, who opposed slavery, married Pierce Butler not knowing that he owned slaves. The ultimate betrayal occurs when Master Butler agrees to sell Emma, the only person whom Sara, his oldest child, trusts. Lester poignantly conveys how the auction polarizes the two sisters: Sara who detests slavery, and Frances who sides with her father. Some of the flashback sections (particularly that of the "slave-seller") interrupt the flow of events, but the novel provides a compelling opportunity for children to step into the shoes of those whose lives were torn apart by slavery. Ages 9-13. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

...More
 
2006 (Illustrator)
Click to search this book in our catalog
Nikki Giovanni

Book list Gr. 3-5. Far from the cliche of Rosa Parks as the tired little seamstress, this beautiful picture-book biography shows her as a strong woman, happy at home and at work, and politically aware (not tired from work, but tired of . . . eating at separate lunch counters and learning at separate schools ). Her refusal to give up her seat on a bus inspires her friend Jo Ann Robinson, president of the Women's Political Council, and the 25 council members to make posters calling for the bus boycott, and they organize a mass meeting where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. speaks for them. Paired very effectively with Giovanni's passionate, direct words, Collier's large watercolor-and-collage illustrations depict Parks as an inspiring force that radiates golden light, and also as part of a dynamic activist community. In the unforgettable close-up that was used for the cover, Parks sits quietly waiting for the police as a white bus driver demands that she give up her seat. In contrast, the final picture opens out to four pages showing women, men, and children marching for equal rights at the bus boycott and in the years of struggle yet to come. The history comes clear in the astonishing combination of the personal and the political. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Giovanni (The Sun Is So Quiet) and Collier (Uptown) offer a moving interpretation of Rosa Parks's momentous refusal to give up her bus seat. The author brings her heroine very much to life as she convincingly imagines Parks's thoughts and words while she rode the bus on December 1, 1955 ("She was not frightened. She was not going to give in to that which was wrong"), pointing out that Mrs. Parks was in the neutral section of the bus and (as some fellow riders observe) "She had a right to be there." The author and poet lyrically rephrases what the heroine herself has frequently said, "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." After Mrs. Parks's arrest, the narrative's focus shifts to the 25 members of the Women's Political Council, who met secretly to stage the bus boycott. Inventively juxtaposing textures, patterns, geometric shapes and angles, Collier's watercolor and collage art presents a fitting graphic accompaniment to the poetic text. After viewing an image of Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraging a crowd to walk rather than ride the buses, readers open a dramatic double-page foldout of the Montgomery masses walking for nearly a year before the Supreme Court finally ruled that segregation on buses was illegal. A fresh take on a remarkable historic event and on Mrs. Parks's extraordinary integrity and resolve. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Gr 3-5-Rosa Parks's personal story moves quickly into a summary of the Civil Rights movement in this striking picture book. Parks is introduced in idealized terms. She cares for her ill mother and is married to "one of the best barbers in the county." Sewing in an alterations department, "Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. Her needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom." Soon the story moves to her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus, but readers lose sight of her as she waits to be arrested. Giovanni turns to explaining the response of the Women's Political Caucus, which led to the bus boycott in Montgomery. A few events of the movement are interjected-the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the aftermath and reactions to the murder of Emmett Till, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., as spokesperson. Collier's watercolor and collage scenes are deeply hued and luminous, incorporating abstract and surreal elements along with the realistic figures. Set on colored pages, these illustrations include an effective double foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Many readers will wonder how it all went for Parks after her arrest, and there are no added notes. Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

...More