Do not miss this complex story of an American legend.

NINA

A STORY OF NINA SIMONE

This biography of African American icon Nina Simone follows the development of her early musical talent to her popularity as a musician during the civil rights movement.

Born in North Carolina in 1933, Eunice Kathleen Waymon “sang before she could talk and found rhythm before she could walk.” Her mama, a minister, sang only church songs, and her daddy played the upright piano, teaching Eunice to play jazz when Mama was out. From the age of 3, Eunice played music at church while Mama preached. Eunice’s gift was undeniable, and the White woman Mama cleaned for during the week helped arrange music lessons, where Eunice learned classical piano, falling in love with Bach’s music. After high school, Eunice went to New York City to attend the Juilliard School of Music. But when she auditioned for a transfer to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, she was not accepted, and she felt her dream of being a musician slipping away. When she took jobs in nightclubs, she performed as Nina Simone to keep her mother from discovering her secret. The narrative includes details of the love and support of family and community that gave Nina her early start, the disappointments and humiliations she suffered because of racism, and the determination and sheer love of music and of her people that carried her to success despite the setbacks. Todd’s musical prose allows readers into Nina’s perspective, and Robinson’s scenes and portraits absolutely sing with energy, keeping pace perfectly with the text as it expands beyond typical picture-book length. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Do not miss this complex story of an American legend. (note) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3728-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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 striking visual representation of how the label “bad reader” can feel.

A WALK IN THE WORDS

A slow reader gains confidence.

Strongly influenced by Talbott’s own childhood reading journey, a young tot with a mop of brown hair and pale skin loves art, but reading doesn’t come as naturally. Crayons and colored pencils create imaginative worlds, but the words on a page crowd together, forming an impenetrable wall, with the youngster barely able to peer over. The rest of the class seemingly soars ahead, turning page after page, but the books (in the protagonist’s mind) give chase, flying menacingly like a scene from Hitchcock: “And they were coming for me! / So many words! So many pages!” Talbott expertly captures the claustrophobic crush of unknown vocabulary, first as a downpour of squiggles from the sky, then as a gnarled, dark forest with words lining the branches. But reading slowly doesn’t mean not reading at all. The youngster learns to search for familiar words, using them as steppingstones. And there are advantages: “Slow readers savor the story!” There is even a “Slow Readers Hall of Fame” included, featuring Albert Einstein, Sojourner Truth, and many others. Talbott excels at evincing concepts visually, and this talent is in evidence here as his protagonist first struggles then gains mastery, surfing confidently down a wave of words. Patience and curiosity (along with some fierce determination) can unlock incredible stories. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A striking visual representation of how the label “bad reader” can feel. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-54871-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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