A one-time read for most, but a worthy addition to the reference shelf.

KAMALA HARRIS

ROOTED IN JUSTICE

Eve, a young black girl from Oakland, wants to be president one day, and her mother tells her all about Kamala Harris to show that it is possible.

The story’s opening, closing, and occasional exchanges between Eve and her mom are italicized while the lengthy narration of Kamala’s life is not. The latter begins with the meaning of her name and her parents’ origins in Jamaica and India before they met in Oakland, Kamala’s birthplace. Densely packed lines of free-verse text trace her biography, scenes detailing the settings that made Kamala who she is, including the marches her parents attended, the school to which she was bused, the cultural center she frequented after school, her matriculation at a historically black college, and her career beyond law school, with the two penultimate spreads briefly covering her presidential run through the ending of her campaign. The brightly colored illustrations offer memorable moments for listeners to linger over while the extensive text is read aloud (few children will sustain interest in the story to read it independently to the end). Eve’s story frame seems useful in the beginning, but it peters out midway through to become an awkward add-on to this in-depth biography, potentially confusing readers. Despite some weaknesses in its execution, this thorough portrait of the background and hard work that brought this biracial, black woman to her campaign for the presidency is worth sharing with children. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 61% of actual size.)

A one-time read for most, but a worthy addition to the reference shelf. (timeline, sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6267-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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