A stellar achievement for the whole year—not just its shortest month.

28 DAYS

MOMENTS IN BLACK HISTORY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

Three pivotal Supreme Court cases, one amendment, and 25 great men and women make for memorable entries.

Smith opens the 28 days of Black History Month with Crispus Attucks, who was a slave and a patriot in Colonial Boston, and concludes with Barack Obama, the 44th president. Moving chronologically, he presents names from the armed forces, medicine, sports, performing arts, exploration, business and civil rights activism. The entries vary from poetry to prose, dramatically making the point that each is individually an important person or decision, vital to our understanding of African-American history. Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe are represented in a poem for two voices. Harriet Tubman and Madame C.J. Walker are eulogized. Marian Anderson’s poem incorporates words from “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” Malcolm X is honored with an acrostic poem centered on “By any means necessary.” Nelson Mandela, the one international citizen, is accorded a chant. Brief paragraphs provide background notes. Day 29 is aimed at children, exhorting them to “add to history.” Evans’ digitally manipulated collage-and-oil artwork is brilliant, with bright colors and broad images that are powerful, poignant and heroic. Matthew Henson holds an American flag, Rosa Parks is in handcuffs, and the Little Rock Nine hold books while segregationists stand behind them with their fists raised.

A stellar achievement for the whole year—not just its shortest month. (author’s note, bibliography) (Informational picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-820-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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