A loving remembrance of a tender, enduring intergenerational relationship.

TIGERS & TEA WITH TOPPY

Rhoda vividly remembers exciting New York weekends with her grandfather Toppy, the artist Charles R. Knight, who created many of the murals at the American Museum of Natural History.

Co-author Kalt—Rhoda herself, now grown up—provides a frame, using their weekend jaunts as an entree into Toppy’s life. Toppy was nearly blind but was nevertheless determined to become a wildlife artist, inspired by childhood visits to the American Museum of Natural History. He took art lessons, studied the animals at the Central Park Zoo, and spent hours at the museum’s taxidermy department. His first assignment was painting a prehistoric creature, working from a skeleton. He used every skill he had developed and brought all his knowledge of animals to the task. In scenes with little Rhoda, Toppy’s impromptu lectures, demonstrations, and expansive invitations provide further insights into his character and artistic achievements. Most important is his gentle insistence that Rhoda follow her own heart in determining her future endeavors. Two voices narrate the tale, in both present and past tenses and across several time periods. It is somewhat awkward, but Kerley maintains a careful balance, and it works. Knight’s own lifelike creations appear interspersed with Stephens’ bright, clever, and whimsical gouaches on watercolor. Rhoda and Toppy are white. In a note, Stephens tells of his own vision impairment and his admiration for Knight, and an excerpt from Knight’s own work is also appended.

A loving remembrance of a tender, enduring intergenerational relationship. (authors’ notes, sources, photos) (Picture book/memoir. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-13427-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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