MARTIN RISING

REQUIEM FOR A KING

The multiaward-winning Pinkneys’ requiem lovingly explains in a set of “docu-poems” the events surrounding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, particularly the Memphis sanitation workers’ strikes that brought him to the city where he eventually died.

The author humanizes King through the love he has for his family and movement comrades (including an April 4, 1968, pillow fight with his brother, Andrew Young, and Ralph Abernathy) as well as the viral bug he suffers with as he gives his last, prescient, and momentous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. The illustrator, blending influences of Marc Chagall and Norman Lewis, gives the story a loosely drawn, vibrantly warm, watercolor haze, which, with halos of yellows and oranges and even wings, give King and his family an almost beatific, if not saintly, glow, even in their sorrows. The character of Henny Penny, who is a blend of the fabled chicken and a wise black grandmother, provides the Greek-chorus narration in a device that is understandable if sometimes-distracting. Catholicism creates hagiographies to explain their martyrs’ and other saints’ deaths, whether history concurs with their feats for the faith or, in some cases, their very existences. Even as U.S. black communities wrestle with Dr. King’s personal foibles, media-glossed images, and complex messages, here readers have a children’s book in which adults may also find succor, if not inspiration, considering the current reverting-to–pre–Civil Rights administration.

Spiritually vital. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, history, timeline, bibliography) (Poetry. 8-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-70253-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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