MUHAMMAD ALI

CHAMPION OF THE WORLD

Biblical syntax and cadences lift The Greatest from sports legend to prophet in this remarkable homage. “In the beginning was Jack Johnson . . . And some many years later, in a different age, God said, ‘Let there be Joe Louis’ . . . And the heavens opened up, and there appeared a great man . . . And he was called Cassius Clay.” Clay’s ascent through the ranks of boxing becomes a matter of predestination, his conversion to the Nation of Islam and his banning from the sport during the Vietnam War precursors to his apotheosis in the “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman. Fortunately, Winter leavens his text with plenty of humor, allowing Ali’s personality to peek through. Roca’s beautiful poster-like oils are built on strong horizontal and vertical lines, the light shining on Ali emphasizing his status as Chosen One. Playful typography allows highlighted words to pop off the page, visual punches to underscore Ali’s determination and personality. A prefatory note gives readers some background and prepares them for the presentation to come. As hagiography goes, it doesn’t come any more unabashed than this—or more effective. (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-375-83622-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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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 worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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