Zoboi’s poetic retrospective breathes life into Black history narratives and reverently celebrates Black lives.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Honor

THE PEOPLE REMEMBER

A lyrical history of African American life that also explicates the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Opening with Africans from many ethnic groups being ripped from their homelands in the midst of births, deaths, storytelling, and other daily occurrences, this immaculately illustrated picture book walks through a vast swath of history. This includes the Atlantic slave trade, the plight and escape of enslaved people, emancipation, northern migration, faith journeys, and more, ending with the Movement for Black Lives. Zoboi’s lyrical free verse, with occasional subtle rhymes, always speaks boldly about the lives, trials, and successes of African American people. The refrain the people remember emphasizes how memories are passed down from one generation to the next, be they positive or otherwise. Figures like Mami Wata center Africa and the African diaspora—necessary for explaining the Kwanzaa principles within the narrative. Wise’s humans, somewhat reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence’s, feel big and expansive in proportion to their surroundings, representing the outsized impact African Americans have had on United States history and culture, whether acknowledged or not. Rich, deeply saturated illustrations cover every page and show how integral African Americans have been to the creation and growth of the arts. Extensive backmatter will ground readers in the facts and spark interest for further research. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Zoboi’s poetic retrospective breathes life into Black history narratives and reverently celebrates Black lives. (author's note, timeline, further reading) (Picture book. 7-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291564-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more