Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only...

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT LADY BIRD?

POEMS ABOUT OUR FIRST LADIES

“We know Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, / but what about those other madams”?

For each first lady from Martha Washington (“Raised to be a planter’s wife, / taught how one behaves / as mistress of the household / and the household slaves”) to immigrant Melania Trump, Singer offers a thumbnail character study in verse that’s paired to an ink-and-wash figure by Carpenter. If there is any common theme, it’s mortality: Martha Jefferson, who died 19 years before her husband’s election, is represented by a framed silhouette over a silent pianoforte; Peggy Taylor lies prostrate before a tombstone; a veiled Jackie Kennedy looks out from an antique TV screen. Singer likewise often includes mention of lost husbands or children among references to favored causes and personal accomplishments. On the other hand, Mary Todd Lincoln, generously summed up as “an unlucky woman—kindly and cursed,” poses regally as her brown-skinned dressmaker (unnamed in the poem but identified in the endnotes) cuts up an American flag to make a gown while Abe stands nearby, gaping comically at a sheaf of bills. Brief profiles at the end add some detail but mostly just recap the poems’ content, and a pictorial timeline on the rear endpapers would serve as an index if the jacket flap didn’t cover a good portion of it.

Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only figuratively) next to the presidents. (Poetry/collective biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2660-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Gives readers a fresh and thrilling sense of what it took to make history.

A PLACE TO LAND

The backstory of a renowned address is revealed.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is one of the most famous ever given, yet with this book, Wittenstein and Pinkney give young readers new insights into both the speech and the man behind it. When Dr. King arrived in Washington, D.C., for the 1963 March on Washington, the speech was not yet finished. He turned to his fellow civil rights leaders for advice, and after hours of listening, he returned to his room to compose, fine-tuning even the day of the march. He went on to deliver a powerful speech, but as he closed, he moved away from the prepared text and into a stirring sermon. “Martin was done circling. / The lecture was over. / He was going to church, / his place to land, / and taking a congregation / of two hundred and fifty thousand / along for the ride.” Although much hard work still lay ahead, the impact of Dr. King’s dramatic words and delivery elevated that important moment in the struggle for equal rights. Wittenstein’s free-verse narrative perfectly captures the tension leading up to the speech as each adviser urged his own ideas while remaining a supportive community. Pinkney’s trademark illustrations dramatize this and the speech, adding power and further illuminating the sense of historical importance.

Gives readers a fresh and thrilling sense of what it took to make history. (author’s note, lists of advisers and speakers, bibliography, source notes) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4331-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life.

STITCH BY STITCH

ELIZABETH HOBBS KECKLY SEWS HER WAY TO FREEDOM

Schofield-Morrison fashions a poignant tribute to the remarkable life and craft of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hobbs Keckly, a formerly enslaved woman who broke the color line in haute couture.

In straightforward prose seamlessly woven through with excerpts from Keckly’s 1868 autobiography, the text traces Keckly’s unlikely journey from a slave plantation to the White House. Born enslaved in Virginia in 1818, she survived a childhood of unutterable cruelty but set her mind to learning the craft of sewing from her mother. Sent by her master to work for a White tailor without pay, Keckly endured further hardships, but her talent and toil eventually earned her a clientele of affluent women. After purchasing freedom for herself and her son, she went on to become a successful businesswoman, highly sought-after tailoress, and trendsetting fashionista, even serving as the official dresser for first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Zunon’s breathtaking and masterful mixed-media illustrations—incorporating oil, paint, fabric, ribbon, paper, embroidery, and appliqué—beautifully capture the artistry of Keckly’s dresses.

A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life. (author’s note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3963-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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