Impeccably honors its subject.

TWENTY-ONE STEPS

GUARDING THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

An up-close look at the sentinels who protect and honor America’s fallen.

“I am an Unknown. I am one of many.” Instantly personal, instantly heart-rending. The unnamed, unknown soldier in the tomb at Arlington National Cemetery tells this story. World War I took not only the lives of many, but, tragically, their identities as well. “Nameless and faceless” heroes were impossible to reunite with loved ones. Families were unable to properly mourn. In 1921, one soldier was chosen to represent the Unknowns. Gottesfeld’s text, spare and shining, gently gives the backstory. But it is the unexpected footsteps—21 to be exact—of the soldier who stands guard and 21 seconds of silence that resound loudly and purely. “With each step, my war was over.” Forearms are kept at 90-degree angles. Hat brims are two finger widths above the eye. The precision of dress and deliberate, smooth actions of the Tomb Guards emanate honor and respect, but the first-person narration shows a personal perspective. A 24-hour guard gives comfort and companionship. “From that moment, I have never been alone again.” Tavares’ magisterial art soars, awash in opposing forces: shadowed but luminous, soaked in both melancholy and reverence. All sentinels (“men and women of every race, religion, and creed”) take this honor seriously, expressed in the “Sentinel’s Creed” reproduced in the frontmatter. The fallen who have died nameless deserve the very best. This is it.

Impeccably honors its subject. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0148-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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