This a-peel-ing story will give readers a new appreciation for spuds. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

NO SMALL POTATOES

JUNIUS G. GROVES AND HIS KINGDOM IN KANSAS

Junius G. Groves, named “Potato King of the World” by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1902, was the richest black man “living between the Missouri River and the Rockies,” according to the Indianapolis Recorder.

This entertaining biography celebrates an African-American hero born into slavery in the late 1850s in Kentucky who realized his dreams for himself and eventually for his large family. Settling in the Great Kaw Valley, Kansas, Junius began working on a potato farm for 40 cents a day, “almost starvation wages,” but he was determined to own a farm one day. First renting their land, Junius and his wife, Matilda, worked hard and saved, buying 80 acres in 1884 and paying off the balance in a year with the help of their three sons. Eventually he bought over 500 acres on which he grew 72,150 bushels—roughly 12 million potatoes—in one year, 1902. With 12 children and lots of hired hands, Junius built Groves Park, the community of Groves Center, a church, a store, and even a golf course. Every few pages, a sidebar punctuates Bolden’s chatty, colloquial narrative with words from Groves himself. The mixed-media illustrations, awash in blues, greens, and browns, successfully represent the expansiveness of the land and the momentous nature of Groves’ accomplishments. A glossary, a timeline, and other helpful backmatter make this an excellent research resource for teachers and students alike.

This a-peel-ing story will give readers a new appreciation for spuds. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-385-75276-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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