“The powerful symbols in this book stand for what the United States stands for: liberty, equality, and freedom.” The subtitle provides a gloss of the subject matter: places (Plymouth Rock, the White House, Washington Monument, Ellis Island), objects (the flag, Liberty Bell, the bald eagle), holidays, and documents. The high-minded effort provides a glossary (although without a definition of “steerage”), books to read, and an index, but no sources. Opening with a paragraph about the origin of the population, the author, editor, and publisher immediately demonstrate a major oversight: no mention of native populations before the Mayflower. Later: “The Declaration of Independence is the most important document in our nation’s history.” Some may think otherwise. The illustration of Jefferson’s writing desk on which he penned the Declaration has legs. It doesn’t have them and the genius of his portable desk is in its design and construction. Illustrations in color are as trite as the text. A new symbol (after the index)—“Remembering 9/11/01”—seems to be a late addition that doesn’t really fit. Overuse of the exclamation point is lazy and obviates the need for strong verbs. Not a necessary purchase. (Nonfiction. 3-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-42450-X

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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This book falls short of its promise.



A compendium of profiles of people of color who have changed the world.

Each page of this colorful board book contains between four and nine profiles of people of color whose activism and leadership have changed the world. The descriptive text for each leader chosen is extremely short—only one sentence long—quickly outlining each person’s background, heritage, accomplishments, and little else. Each profile is accompanied by a bobbleheadlike cartoon illustration of the leader in question, rendered with bold colors and nearly identical in their simplified facial features. The heroes chosen are diverse in terms of their race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and areas of expertise, including African American athlete and artist Ernie Barnes, Dominican fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Kwakwaka’wakw artist Ellen Ka’kasolas Neel, and president of Ecuador Lenín Moreno, who uses a wheelchair. Although the range is impressive, it is also confusing: A few sentences of additional text sporadically appear, serving little purpose and breaking the flow, nor does there seem to be any unifying threads to the groupings. Additionally, some of the choices of heroes are questionable: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, for example, was often criticized for engaging in corruption and doing little to further the cause of women’s rights, while “spiritual leader” Sudehanshu Biswas is hardly known even in his home country of India.

This book falls short of its promise. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32642-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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