Light, graceful, and accessible in both words and pictures.



The life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha, is told in this picture book.

Using simple phrases in a pleasing, steady cadence that flows restfully, author Hopkinson tells the story of the Buddha for young readers. Born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in ancient India, he spent his childhood in his father’s palace in protected luxury, since his father did not want him to experience anything painful or unhappy. But eventually Siddhartha wanted to see what was outside the palace walls, so, yielding to his son’s requests, his father let him visit the city, where he had ordered the mayor to hold a festival. Despite these precautions, Siddhartha wandered off and saw hardship and pain—an experience that left him determined to find a way to set people free from suffering. Hopkinson inserts variations on the phrase “just like you” into the narrative at key moments, thereby connecting the ancient story to the feelings and longings readers may experience—an effective device that makes the story relevant and applicable to today. Illustrator Whitman’s gracious double-page spreads mirror the text, featuring plenty of white space and a soothing, light palette. She often uses white lines, rather than dark, to delineate the pictures, which has the effect of imbuing the illustrations overall with light—enhancing the enlightenment theme of the story.

Light, graceful, and accessible in both words and pictures. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68364-153-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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


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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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.


The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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