While the author justifiably bemoans the disproportionate number of titles about African-Americans that focus on slavery,...

POET

THE REMARKABLE STORY OF GEORGE MOSES HORTON

Tate paints a portrait of a North Carolina man who pursued his passion for language through long years of enslavement.

Nothing about the life of a slave could truly be deemed “lucky,” but George Horton was fortunate to live where he did. When he was growing up, literacy was not yet against the law for slaves. Fascinated by the power of words, Horton taught himself to read and began composing verses. His owner eventually allowed him to live in nearby Chapel Hill and work as a writer. His earnings were not his own, and he deeply felt the pain of his circumstances, but writing poems and living among educated people was better than the back-breaking labor most slaves performed. Straightforward, accessible text covers the basic facts and evokes, albeit in an understated way, the hardships Horton faced. Created in mixed media, including gouache, pencil, ink, and digital, luminous illustrations provide context and convey emotion. Double-page spreads, insets, and vignettes show George as he ages and moves from the rural life of his childhood to town and, for a brief period, out West.

While the author justifiably bemoans the disproportionate number of titles about African-Americans that focus on slavery, his decision to illuminate this remarkable man’s life offers a new perspective with remarkable clarity. (bibliography, author’s note, acknowledgements) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56145-825-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them.

NELSON MANDELA

An inspirational ode to the life of the great South African leader by an award-winning author and illustrator.

Mandela’s has been a monumental life, a fact made clear on the front cover, which features an imposing, full-page portrait. The title is on the rear cover. His family gave him the Xhosa name Rolihlahla, but his schoolteacher called him Nelson. Later, he was sent to study with village elders who told him stories about his beautiful and fertile land, which was conquered by European settlers with more powerful weapons. Then came apartheid, and his protests, rallies and legal work for the cause of racial equality led to nearly 30 years of imprisonment followed at last by freedom for Mandela and for all South Africans. “The ancestors, / The people, / The world, / Celebrated.” Nelson’s writing is spare, poetic, and grounded in empathy and admiration. His oil paintings on birch plywood are muscular and powerful. Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up.

A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-178374-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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