It’s not perfect, but it deserves solid consideration.

POPE FRANCIS

BUILDER OF BRIDGES

Otheguy presents a succinct chronicle of Pope Francis’ trajectory from his childhood in Buenos Aires to his papacy in Rome.

Straightforward storytelling reveals Jorge Bergoglio as a prayerful boy who loved soccer and learned about the goodness of all people from his grandma Rosa. As an adult, he became a Jesuit priest as part of his search to help people and eventually became the first South American and Jesuit pope in 2013. Otheguy successfully weaves Catholic concepts into the historical narrative, such as the election process for a new pope, and defines such potentially unfamiliar terms as “pontiff” while she underscores his care for prisoners, refugees, the planet, and children. Extensive backmatter, including a moving and personal author’s note and citations for the primary source quotations, elevates the historical content further. While the book succeeds in narration, it struggles in illustration. Depictions of Pope Francis are strong and realistic, but supporting characters, such as the cardinals, lack refinement. The book’s design is predictable: one or more paragraphs of text paired with Dominguez’s literal illustrations in acrylic, gouache, watercolor, ink, and pastel that bleed across the gutter. The overuse of jagged lines to represent sounds (think: ZAP! and POW! from 1960s TV Batman) is slightly tiresome; the figures’ gestures are enough to connote action. In spite of the shortfalls in illustration, this is an uplifting and solidly researched book about a significant world leader.

It’s not perfect, but it deserves solid consideration. (timeline, glossary, selected bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-560-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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