Coretta Scott King Awards
2017
March: Book Three
Book Jacket   John Lewis
2017
Radiant Child
Book Jacket   Javaka Steptoe
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Steptoe chronicles the formative years and evolving style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a Brooklyn-born graffiti artist with a rising career in the 1980s fine arts world; coverage ceases before his untimely drug-related death at age 27.Steptoes canvas is wood salvaged from the Brooklyn Museum and locales that Basquiat frequented. Spaces between the patched fragments contribute to the impression of a disjointed childhood. Steptoe shows that Basquiat was smart and driven early on, influenced by his Haitian fathers jazz records and his Puerto Rican mothers style, encouragement, breakdown, and institutionalization when he was only 7. Prior to that, she drew with him, took him to see Picassos Guernica, and gave him Greys Anatomy following a serious car accident. Images of body parts imprint his increasingly complex political paintings, along with other recurring motifs explained in outstanding backmatter. Several sentences per spread speak with understated lyricism and poignancy, an occasional internal rhyme underscoring a point: Jean-Michel is confused and filled with a terrible blues / when Matilde can no longer live at home. Acknowledging his multifaceted sense of connection, Steptoe interprets Basquiats style instead of inserting particular works. Vibrant colors and personal symbols channel the sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still BEAUTIFUL paintings, incorporating meticulously attributed collage elements and capturing the artists energy and mystery. Stellar bookmakinga riveting portrait of a young artist. (authors note, bibliography, biography) (Picture book/biography. 6-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316213882 The art world first took note of Jean-Michel Basquiat's graffiti in the late 1970s. He earned a large following and several art shows but was often discouraged by racism. Steptoe's style, similar to Basquiat's with its vivid palette and use of found objects, provides a close impression of the painter's work. Appended notes provide additional information about Basquiat's life and art. Bib. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
The Sun Is Also a Star
 Nicola Yoon
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780553496680 Natasha, an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica facing immediate deportation, believes in science and rationality. Daniel, burdened with his Korean-immigrant parents' expectations, believes in destiny and poetry. When their paths cross unexpectedly, and repeatedly, over one day, Daniel is convinced he's going to fall in love. In a twelve-hour race against the clock, the teens' alternating first-person narratives are fresh and compelling. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniels a poet who believes in love, something that cant be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natashas understandably distractedand doesnt want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, the feeling when you meet someone that youre going to fall in love with them. The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Danielsure theyre meant to beis determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her familys deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoons lush prose chronicles an authentic romance thats also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate. With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
As Brave As You
 Jason Reynolds
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has "worry issues," so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents "try to figure it all out," he goes into overdrive.First, he discovers that Grandpop is blind. Next, there's no Internet, so the questions he keeps track of in his notebook (over 400 so far) will have to go un-Googled. Then, he breaks the model truck that's one of the only things Grandma still has of his deceased uncle. And he and Ernie will have to do chores, like picking peas and scooping dog poop. What's behind the "nunya bidness door"? And is that a gun sticking out from Grandpop's waistband? Reynolds' middle-grade debut meanders like the best kind of summer vacation but never loses sense of its throughline. The richly voiced third-person narrative, tightly focused through Genie's point of view, introduces both brothers and readers to this rural African-American community and allows them to relax and explore even as it delves into the many mysteries that so bedevil Genie, ranging from "Grits? What exactly are they?" to, heartbreakingly, "Why am I so stupid?" Reynolds gives his readers uncommonly well-developed, complex characters, especially the completely believable Genie and Grandpop, whose stubborn self-sufficiency belies his vulnerability and whose flawed love both Genie and readers will cherish.This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past's repercussions on the present. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
Freedom Over Me
Book Jacket   Ashley Bryan
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Bryan restores humanity to ten real-life slaves listed for sale on an 1828 document (plus one fictional slave), giving them ages, African names, relationships, talents, and dreams. Each individual receives two spreads of poetry: the first serves as introduction (accompanied by a wood carvinglike portrait, suggesting the mask each wears for day-to-day life on the plantation); the second (illustrated in brilliant colors) is devoted to his or her dreams. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Bryan restores humanity to ten real-life slaves listed for sale on an 1828 document (plus one fictional slave), giving them ages, African names, relationships, talents, and dreams. Each individual receives two spreads of poetry: the first serves as introduction (accompanied by a wood carvinglike portrait, suggesting the mask each wears for day-to-day life on the plantation); the second (illustrated in brilliant colors) is devoted to his or her dreams. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
Freedom in Congo Square
Book Jacket   Carole Boston Weatherford
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781499801033 In Louisiana, enslaved Africans were provided a half-day of rest each Sunday; in New Orleans, they gathered in Congo Square. Spare couplets, describing the labors and horrors of slavery, count down to Sunday. Weatherford sugarcoats nothing, but the text isn't mired in sadness or pain. Christie's illustrations, which recall Jacob Lawrence's work, add even more emotional depth. A foreword provides historical context. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Count down the days until Sunday, a day for slaves in New Orleans to gather together and remember their African heritage. In rhyming couplets, Weatherford vividly describes each day of nonstop work under a "dreaded lash" until Sunday, when slaves and free blacks could assemble in Congo Square, now a part of New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Park and on the National Register of Historic Places. Musicians "drummed ancestral roots alive" on different traditional instruments, and men and women danced. They also exchanged information and sold wares. The poetry is powerful and evocative, providing a strong and emotional window into the world of the slave. Christie's full-bleed paintings are a moving accompaniment. His elongated figures toil in fields and in houses with bent backs under the watchful eyes of overseers with whips. Then on Sunday, they greet one another and dance with expressively charged spirits. One brilliant double-page spread portrays African masks and instruments with swirling lines of text; it is followed by another with four dancers moving beautifullyalmost ethereallyon a vibrant yellow collage background. As the author notes, jazz would soon follow from the music played in Congo Square. Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans' drive to preserve their dignity and pride. (foreword, glossary, author's note) (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
In Plain Sight
 C. J. Box
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After an eventful trip to Jackson Hole (Out of Range, 2005), Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett is back in Twelve Sleep County for a homecoming that's anything but homey. Trouble starts when fishing guide Tommy Wayman tosses Opal Scarlett, matriarch of the Thunderhead Ranch, into the river over a long-simmering feud. Assuming that Opal's too mean to die, Tommy isn't worried when he doesn't see her climb out. But her disappearance—neither she nor her corpse has turned up anywhere since then—leaves her three sons free to battle it out with shovels over ownership of the ranch. That's the opening scene Joe interrupts, accompanied by his daughter Sheridan, 14, and her best friend, Hank Scarlett's daughter Julie. Soon enough, both Joe and Sheridan will be haunted by spectral sightings of Opal, grinning over her sons' fratricidal strife. By that time, though, Joe will have bigger troubles of his own. Fresh from his murder of convicted killer Wacey Hedeman, J.W. Keeley is on his way to Twelve Sleep County, eager to destroy Joe, whom he blames for the slaughter of his family (Winterkill, 2003). If you think Joe can expect help from the law-enforcement community, you don't know this series, and it's high time you started. Despite an encore roster of perps and felonies that plays like a Greatest Hits list from Joe's first five adventures, Box continues to write the sharpest suspensers west of the Pecos. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Gone Crazy in Alabama
 Rita Williams Garcia
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062215871 Sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern (One Crazy Summer; P. S. Be Eleven) visit their grandmother and great-grandmother in Alabama. When a tornado strikes, twelve-year-old Delphine sees how her scattered family comes together to hold one another up. This concluding installment has the feeling of a saga, related effectively from Delphine's first-person point of view--and with help from some feisty elders. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The coping skills of three sisters are put to the test as they leave Brooklyn for a rural summer in 1969 Alabama. Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, the sisters who captured readers' hearts in One Crazy Summer (2010) and P.S. Be Eleven (2013), are off to spend the summer in Alabama with Big Ma. This visit comes at a time of great awareness for almost-13-year-old Delphine as well as looming change in her family. Delphine is still in charge, but Vonetta seeks to step out of her older sister's shadow. The trip also means the girls will confront their Uncle Darnell, who let them down during his stay in Brooklyn. Hurts and grudges go even deeper as the story of the girls' great-grandmother and her estranged sister is gradually disclosed, revealing family dynamics shaped by racial history. All the conflicts fade when a tornado threatens an unbearable loss. Character development again astonishes, the distinctive personalities of the girls ringing true and the supporting cast adding great depth and texture. Indeed, the girls' cousin JimmyTrotter is so fully realized it seems unfair to think of him as secondary. This well-crafted depiction of a close-knit community in rural Alabama works beautifully, with language that captures its humor, sorrow and resilience. Rich in all areas, Delphine and her sisters' third outing will fully satisfy the many fans of their first two. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Trombone Shorty
Book Jacket   Troy Andrews
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An autobiographical tale of a young man who started making "musical gumbo" at age 4. Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews relates how he grew up in Trem in New Orleans, American's oldest black neighborhood, where he heard music everywhere. Young Troy admires his big brother's trumpet playing and makes music without instruments with his friends. After finding a discarded trombone, the little boy teaches himself to play. Troy narrates: "I was so small that sometimes I fell right overbecause it was so heavy." (Despite Collier's illustrations of young "Shorty," nothing prepares readers for his size in the parade photograph in the backmatter.) When Bo Diddley hears him playing in the crowd at the New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival, the jazz great invites him to the stage. An author's note explains that Troy started a band at age 6 and joined Lenny Kravitz's band at 19. Trombone Shorty Orleans Avenue, his band, tours the world, and Troy shares New Orleans music and culture through his foundation and music academy. Employing his unmistakable mixed-media collage images, Collier portrays the story of this living legend with energy and style, making visible the swirling sounds of jazz. This well-told and exquisitely illustrated story of a musician with a steep career trajectory will inspire young readers to pursue their passions, despite the challenges. (illustrator's note) (Picture book/biography. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781419714658 Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his younger years: growing up in New Orleans's Tremi neighborhood; making his own instruments before acquiring a trombone; practicing constantly; appearing onstage with Bo Diddley; and finally forming his own successful band. Expressive watercolor collages layer and texture each page, creating a mix of images that echo the combination of styles in Andrews's "musical gumbo. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Hoodoo
Book Jacket   Ronald L. Smith
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A sinister stranger stalks young Hoodoo Hatcher in rural 1930s Alabama. Hoodoo has already lived a life shadowed by tragedy; his mother died at his birth, and his father, a "powerful mojo man," left town and "came to a bad end." Hoodoo, despite his name, has never been able to practice folk magick like much of the rest of his family. And his name has made him the butt of jokes at school. Living with his grandmother, Mama Frances, in a tiny town has never been too exciting until a carnival fortuneteller's dark predictions force Hoodoo to investigate his family's past and the ways of hoodoo in order to save himself and his remaining family from a demon stranger. What does the stranger want? And can Hoodoo prevail when it seems the people he cares about most are keeping things from him? Smith's debut is an engaging, creepy mystery that doesn't shy away from the harshness of its Jim Crow setting but that doesn't dwell on it eitherthe Hatchers' community is largely independent of the white world, and Hoodoo's quest and developing abilities unfold believably within it. Repetition of several phrases and thoughts mar this otherwise fine first-person tale. However, the authenticity of Hoodoo's voice and this distinctive mashup of genres make Smith one to watch. Seekers of the scary and "something different" need look no further. (Horror. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780544445253 Folks in the insular 1930s African American community of Sardis, Alabama, believe in God and in folk magick, or hoodoo. Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher's father tried to cheat death by transporting part of his soul into Hoodoo. To free him, Hoodoo must destroy the evil Stranger. This creepy Southern Gothic ghost story is steeped in time and place; Hoodoo's folksy asides relieve tension. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Voice of Freedom
 Carole Boston Weatherford
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A welcome addition to civil rights literature for children. Ask American children to recall a book on Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks, and most can. Fannie Lou Hamer? They will likely come up short. This expansive, richly illustrated biography about the "voice of the civil rights movement" recounts Hamer's humble and poverty-stricken beginnings in 1917 as the 20th child of Mississippi sharecroppers through her struggle to fight for the rights of black people on local, regional, and national levels. Hamer's quotes appear frequently in Weatherford's free-verse poetry, giving readers a sense of how and what she spoke: "Black people work so hard, and we ain't got nothin' / to show for it." The author also includes painful truths, describing the "night riders' " pursuit of Hamer after she attempted to register to vote and a brutal beating at the hands of police following her arrest, from which she suffered lifetime injuries. Hamer's determination, perseverance, and unwavering resolve come through on every page. Holmes' quiltlike collage illustrations emphasize the importance Hamer placed on community among African-Americans. Young readers who open this book with just a vague notion of who Fannie Lou Hamer was will wonder no more after absorbing this striking portrait of the singer and activist. Bold, honest, informative, and unforgettable. (author's note, timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Picture book/poetry/biography. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763665319 Weatherford chronicles the life of civil rights icon Hamer from her beginnings as the child of Mississippi sharecroppers, through the evolution of her political awareness, to her lasting impact on the civil rights movement. Conversational free-verse text seamlessly incorporates direct quotes; richly colored collage illustrations add emotional heft. This majestic biography places the civil rights movement in personal, local, national, and international contexts. Timeline. Bib. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
All American Boys
 Jason Reynolds
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481463331 When a quick stop at the corner store suddenly escalates into police brutality, high school classmates Rashad (who is African American) and Quinn (who is white) are linked and altered by the violence--Rashad as victim and Quinn as witness. This nuanced novel explores issues of racism, power, and justice with a diverse (ethnically and philosophically) cast and two remarkable protagonists. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Two boys, one black and one white, act out an all-too-familiar drama when the former is brutally beaten during an arrest and the latter witnesses it. Rashad wasn't trying to steal that bag of chips, but Officer Paul Galuzzo beats him to a pulp rather than hear him out. Quinn doesn't know that, but he does know that no one should be treated the way he sees family friend and surrogate father Paul whaling on that black kid. Day by day over the next week, each boy tells his story, Rashad in the hospital, where he watches endless replays of the incident, and Quinn at school, where he tries to avoid it. Soon Rashad's a trending hashtag, as his brother and friends organize a protest he's not sure he wants. Meanwhile, Quinn negotiates basketball practice with his best friendGaluzzo's little brother, who expects loyaltyand Rashad's, who tells him bluntly, "White boy like you can just walk away whenever you want." In a series of set pieces, Rashad contemplates his unwanted role as the latest statistic, and Quinn decides whether he'll walk away or stand. Reynolds and Kiely supply their protagonists with a supporting cast that prods them in all the right ways; Rashad's strict, ex-cop dad provides unexpected complexity. If the hands and agenda of the authors are evident, their passion elevates the novel beyond a needed call to action to a deeply moving experience. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Boy in the Black Suit
Book Jacket   Jason Reynolds
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442459502 High-school senior Matt has a job at Mr. Ray's funeral home, but he's also in mourning, for his mother who died and his long-on-the-wagon father who's returned to drink. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn't. Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a warm and empathetic way that the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. With his mother newly dead, a job in a funeral home somehow becomes the perfect way for Matthew to deal with his crushing grief. Initially skeptical, he plans to use his early-release senior year program to work at a fried-chicken joint that's staffed by an entrancing girl with whom he eventually develops a gentle, tenderly depicted relationship. But the funerals intrigue him and then become deeply satisfying; Matthew finds solace in seeing others experiencing his pain. Matthew's neighbor, Mr. Ray, the funeral director with a sad back story, becomes almost a surrogate father when Matthew's dad gets drunk and then has an accident. Matthew's voice is authentic and perceptive as he navigates the initial months without his mom; he's supported by a believable cast of fully fleshed-out characters. Occasionally, his language waxes poetic, as when he describes the sights and sounds of Brooklyn: "our cement world of trash cans blown into the street, stray cats begging, stoop sitters dressed in fresh sneakers smoking blunts in broad daylight, old ladies sweeping the sidewalk, tired nine-to-fivers walking slowly on the final stretch before home." Reynolds writes with a gritty realism that beautifully captures the challengesand rewardsof growing up in the inner city. A vivid, satisfying and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption and grace. (Fiction. 11-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
X: A Novel
Book Jacket   Ilyasah Shabazz
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763669676 Shabazz, Malcolm X's third daughter, and YA author Magoon present a vivid, immediate fictionalized portrait of the civil rights activist. Readers are immersed in young Malcolm's world, from his tragic Depression-era childhood; through his teen years in Boston and Harlem, imprisonment for larceny, and growing awareness of racism's impact; ending with his conversion to Islam in his mid-twenties. A powerful, compelling work of historical fiction. Reading list. Bib. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Teaming with veteran Magoon, the third daughter of Malcolm X draws upon history and family stories to create a novel about her father's life before the "X." Malcolm Little grew up in Lansing, Michigan, during the Great Depression. Though times were hard, Malcolm felt that "when Papa was alive, I believed that I was special." But Papa was murdered, his mother entered a mental institution, and the broken family was scattered among foster homes. The unusual but effective chronology of this completely absorbing novel finds Malcolm frequently looking back from 1945 Harlem to specific years in Lansing, trying to make sense of the segregation he faced, a teacher's dismissal of him as "just a nigger" and his father's legacy. Boston was meant to be a fresh start, but Malcolm soon became "a creature of the street," and the authors' evocation of the street hustler's life is richly gritty indeed. Of course the street catches up to him, and ironically, it's in prison where he begins to remake himself. He becomes a reader, corresponds with Elijah Muhammad and, on the final page, signs a letter to Elijah Muhammad as Malcolm X. The author's note carries Malcolm's story further and discusses the significance of his voice in American history. Readers for whom pre-civil rights America is ancient history will find this poetic interpretation eye-opening and riveting. (notes about characters, timeline, family tree, historical context, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763669676 Shabazz, Malcolm X's third daughter, and YA author Magoon present a vivid, immediate fictionalized portrait of the civil rights activist. Readers are immersed in young Malcolm's world, from his tragic Depression-era childhood; through his teen years in Boston and Harlem, imprisonment for larceny, and growing awareness of racism's impact; ending with his conversion to Islam in his mid-twenties. A powerful, compelling work of historical fiction. Reading list. Bib. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlems Greatest Bookstore
 Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780761339434 Nelson presents a picture book adaptation of her No Crystal Stair source material, narrated by young Lewis, son of the National Memorial African Bookstore proprietor Lewis Michaux. Studded with Michaux's aphorisms ("Don't get took! Read a book!"), the book conveys the store's vibrancy during the tumultuous 1960s. Christie, whose black-and-white drawings illustrate No Crystal Stair, here employs full pages drenched with expressionistic color. Bib. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A man with a mission leaves a memorable mark in Harlem. The National Memorial African Bookstore and its owner, Lewis Michaux, were vibrant Harlem fixtures for many years. Nelson, who told her great-uncle's story for teen readers in the award-winning No Crystal Stair, also illustrated by Christie (2012), now turns to the voice of Michaux's son as narrator in this version for a younger audience. The son is an enthusiastic and proud witness to history as he talks about visits to the bookstore by Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Michaux's commitments to reading, knowledge, and African-American history shine brightly through the liberal use of boldface and large type for his pithy and wise sayings, as in "Knowledge is power. You need it every hour. READ A BOOK!" Christie's richly textured and complex paintings, created with broad strokes of color, showcase full bookcases and avid readers. His use of a billboard motif to frame both scenes and text evokes a troubled but strong neighborhood. Faces in browns and grays are set against yellow and orange backgrounds and depict intense emotions in both famous and ordinary folk. The Michaux family's deeply felt sorrow at the assassination of Malcolm X will resonate with all readers. From the author's heart to America's readers: a tribute to a man who believed in and lived black pride. (afterword, author's note, selected bibliography, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Last Stop on Market Street
 Matt de la Pena
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A young boy yearns for what he doesn't have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live. CJ doesn't want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana's playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ's lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana's special gift to see "beautiful where he never even thought to look." Through de la Pea's brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson's exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ's journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility. This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399257742 CJ, a young black boy, has a flurry of questions for his grandmother one rainy day. "How come we always gotta go here after church?" "Here" is a soup kitchen, where they work every Sunday. Nana has bottomless look-on-the-sunny-side answers, but she isn't dispensing bromides; the exquisitely composed collage illustrations showing a glamour-free urban setting forbid a glib reading. A quietly remarkable book. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Last Stop on Market Street
Book Jacket   Matt de la Pena
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A young boy yearns for what he doesn't have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live. CJ doesn't want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana's playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ's lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana's special gift to see "beautiful where he never even thought to look." Through de la Pea's brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson's exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ's journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility. This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399257742 CJ, a young black boy, has a flurry of questions for his grandmother one rainy day. "How come we always gotta go here after church?" "Here" is a soup kitchen, where they work every Sunday. Nana has bottomless look-on-the-sunny-side answers, but she isn't dispensing bromides; the exquisitely composed collage illustrations showing a glamour-free urban setting forbid a glib reading. A quietly remarkable book. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
Brown girl dreaming
Book Jacket   Jacqueline Woodson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399252518 A memoir-in-verse so immediate, readers will feel they are experiencing Woodson's childhood along with her. We see young Jackie grow up not just in historical context but also in the context of extended family, community, and religion (she was raised Jehovah's Witness). Most notably, we trace her development as a nascent writer. The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A multiaward-winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is "a country caught / / between Black and White." But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father's people in Ohio and her mother's people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah's Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe's Stevie and Langston Hughes' poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that "[W]ords are my brilliance." Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Firebird
 Christopher Myers
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A dancer offers encouragement to those who dream of following her onto the stage.Copeland, a soloist with American Ballet Theater, is a rara avis, an African-American ballerina. In this, her first book for children, she establishes a dialogue with an imaginary young girl, also black, who is full of doubts. Copeland assures her that she too was a dreaming shooting star of a girl who worked very hard in class. Likewise, the young girl can become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure. The text is untrammeled by capital letters or periods, and the language soars into dizzying heights of lyrical fancy that barely contain her message of inspiration. Myers artwork, a combination of textured paintings and collage, is the true standout. His vibrant reds, golds and blues, set into the sharp-edged patterns of the backgrounds, evoke the intense drama of the Firebird ballet and pulsate with kinetic synergy. Double-page spreads depict the young girl maturing from loneliness to uncertainty to accomplishment as the ballerina practices at the barre and provides a one-on-one display of bravura technique. The New York City skyline sparkles as Copeland does jets over a jeweled Brooklyn Bridge.A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance. (authors note) (Picture book. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399166150 In an imagined dialogue, American Ballet Theatre soloist Copeland reassures a disheartened African American ballet student that she also had self-doubts: "darling child, don't you know / you're just where I started." Richly hued collages make the dancers on stage seem to fly. An author's note says that Copeland never saw herself in ballet books; this book encourages aspiring dancers of all colors. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
PS Be Eleven
 Rita Williams Garcia
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061938627 Delphine and her sisters have returned from their mother's (One Crazy Summer), but home in Bedford-Stuyvesant has become tricky. Pa has a new "lady friend"; their uncle returns from Vietnam greatly changed; and Delphine's sisters have learned to stand up for themselves. Williams-Garcia brilliantly gets to the very heart of Delphine and each of her family members, creating complex, engaging, and nuanced characters. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Readers will cheer the return of the three sisters who captured hearts in the Newbery Honorwinning One Crazy Summer (2010). The sequel finds sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern returning to their Brooklyn home, full of excitement about visiting their mother in Oakland, Calif. The girls, especially Delphine, are also eager to begin a new school year. However, home is a little different: Their father has a girlfriend, the teacher Delphine had been eagerly expecting has exchanged places with one from Zambia, and their beloved Uncle Darnell is returning home from Vietnam. But their favorite singing group, the Jackson Five, is coming to town, too. With the help of their father's girlfriend, Miss Hendrix, the girls set out to save to attend the concert. Through all of their experiences, Delphine uses her new connection with her mother to understand things, questioning, challenging and reaching for a mother's guidance. Whenever she pushes a bit too hard, Cecile's tart, repeated advice to "be eleven"--even when she turns 12--resonates. Williams-Garcia's skilled writing takes readers to a deeper understanding of Delphine as she grows up and is forced to watch her family take a new shape. Disappointments are not glossed over, even when they involve heartbreaking betrayal. This thoughtful story, told with humor and heart, rings with the rhythms and the dilemmas of the '60s through characters real enough to touch. (Historical fiction. 9-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Knock knock my dads dream for me
Book Jacket   written by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A heartfelt effort to transform Beaty's celebrated monologue into a picture book undermines the source material's power, despite the contributions of Collier's stunning collage-and-watercolor artwork. A father and son play "KNOCK KNOCK" every morning, Papa knocking on the door to awaken him and the boy jumping into his arms. Both picture book and monologue open with this recollection and then reflect on the boy's profound loss when his beloved father is suddenly gone; but while the latter text explains that this is due to the father's incarceration, in picture-book form, his absence is unexplained until an author's note in the backmatter. Not only is this potentially confusing and alarming, it also robs the text of one of its most powerful elements: when the boy visits his father in prison and must "KNOCK KNOCK" on the glass between them. In the monologue, Beaty says that he had to learn to father himself and give himself the words his father didn't give to him. In this adaptation, the boy's mysteriously absent father writes a loving letter filled with fatherly advice, but it omits the monologue's lines about fighting poverty and racism and not allowing a father's choices to define the child. Absent the critical back story, this picture book feels incomplete. A valiant effort that falls short of its source's fearless honesty and passion. (Picture book. 4-8)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316209175 Each morning, a little boy pretends to be asleep until his dad approaches. "Then I...jump into his arms." One day, his father fails to appear. The author's note explains that Beaty's own father was incarcerated; in the book, the absence is unexplained for a more universal story of loss. The text, powerful and spare, is well supported by Collier's watercolor and collage art. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2013 (Author)
Hand in Hand Ten Black Men Who Changed America
Book Jacket   written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Addressing the appetites of readers "hungry for role models," this presents compellingly oratorical pictures of the lives and characters of 10 African-American men who exemplify a "birthright of excellence." Each of the chronologically arranged chapters opens with a tone-setting praise song and a commanding close-up portrait. From Benjamin Banneker, whose accusatory letter to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson "socked it straight / to the secretary of state," to Barack Obama, who "turned Yes, we can! into a celebration call," the gallery is composed of familiar names. Instead of rehashing well-chewed biographical fodder, though, the author dishes up incidents that shaped and tested her subjects' moral and intellectual fiber along with achievements that make her chosen few worth knowing and emulating. Carping critics may quibble about the occasional arguable fact and an implication that Rosa Parks' protest was spontaneous, but like Malcolm X, Pinkney has such "a hot-buttered way with words" that her arguments are as convincing as they are forceful, and her prose, rich as it is in rolling cadences and internal rhymes, never waxes mannered or preachy. A feast for readers whose eyes are (or should be) on the prize, in a volume as well-turned-out as the dapper W.E.B. Dubois, who was "more handsome than a fresh-cut paycheck." (timeline, index, lists of recommended reading and viewing) (Collective biography. 10-15)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013 (Illustrator)
I, Too, Am America
 written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442420083 Steeped in flag symbolism, Collier's mixed-media illustrations show Hughes's "darker brother" as a Pullman porter who collects "items left behind" and distributes passengers' newspapers, record albums, etc., to other African Americans along the train's route. As he explains in a lengthy artist's note, Collier provides a "visual story line" based on the "true actions of Pullman porters" for this iconic poem. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A brilliant visual association between Hughes' poem and the history of the Pullman porters illuminates a chapter of American history but gets bogged down in backmatter explaining its metaphors. The pagination sets a logical, steady pace for a loose visual narrative, opening with a train speeding past foregrounded cotton fields. The next spread is dominated by a portrait of a Pullman porter, with an American flag that the backmatter describes as a "light veil" over his face, and a glimpse of workers in the kitchen car. From there, the porters work with dignity "and grow strong" from scene to scene, until a wordless spread depicts a porter standing on the deck of the caboose and letting papers drift from his hands as though he were sending out a message of hard work, dignity and pride. Subsequent spreads, with recurring visual references to the American flag, feature scenes of people outside, in cities and on trains. Backmatter works hard (with far too much hand-holding) to explain what all of these flag references are supposed to convey. In all, it's a beautiful visual interpretation of Hughes's poem that fails to trust readers enough to let them come to their own understanding of the interplay of art and text. Enjoy the poem and the illustrations; skip the instructions. (Picture book. 8 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2012 (Author)
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
 Kadir Nelson
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In an undertaking even more ambitious than the multiple-award-winning We Are the Ship (2008), Nelson tells the story of African-Americans and their often central place in American history.Directly after the prologue, the narrative begins with the U.S. Capitol, built by slaves and freeman before Nelson steps back and shows the intricate ways American and African-American history were intertwined from the earliest days of the country's founding. Using an unnamed female narrator, Nelson fashions a unique mode of storytelling that is both historical and personal. The narrator guides readers through major events in American history through the perspective of, first, enslaved people, then those legally free but hindered by discrimination and, finally, citizens able to fully participate in American life following the Civil Rights Movement. As with any work by this talented artist, the accompanying illustrations are bold and arresting. The dramatic oil paintings heighten the dignity of this story, whether they are of well-known historical figures, common folk or landscape. With such a long time period to cover, the careful choices Nelson makes of which stories to tell make this a successful effort. While there is little room for historical nuance, Nelson does include the way events such as World War I and the fight for woman suffrage affected the Black community.This intimate narrative makes the stories accessible to young readers and powerfully conveys how personal this history feels for many African-Americans. (Nonfiction. 10 up) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061730740 The unnamed narrator of this graceful and personalized overview of African American history provides a sweeping account that succinctly covers history from the Colonial era to the present day. Each page of text is accompanied by a magnificent oil painting, forty-seven in all, including six dramatic double-page spreads. The illustrations, combined with the narrative, give a sense of intimacy. A tour de force. Timeline. Bib., ind. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2012 (Illustrator)
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom
Book JacketImage by: Amazon   written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781596435384 With dramatic images and minimal narrative, Shane projects a "we-are-there" experience of escaping slaves. White stars stand out against a richly textured midnight blue, as do the triangular whites of the fugitives' eyes and the bold white typeface itself; a golden sun rises on the final view of freedom. Adults discussing black history with five- and six-year-olds can use this visually intense evocation. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Powerfully expressive imagery will sweep young viewers into this suspenseful journey along the Underground Railroad. Accompanied by a commentary of, usually, just two or three words per spread, the scenes track a small group of escapees stealing through darkness beneath a thin crescent moon. They are seen running, crawling, resting tensely, taking brief shelter with "new friends," then wearily keeping on until sunrise at last brings them to their goal: "I am free. He is free. She is free. We are free." Underscoring the sense of fear and urgency with broad, slanted strokes of thinly applied paint, Evans limns his hunched, indistinct figures in dark lines and adds weight with scribbled fill and jagged bits of paper or cloth. His palette of midnight-dark blue lit only by the occasional yellow torch- or lantern light and white stars draws attention to the whites of the frightened escapees' eyes and makes sunlit Freedom all the more precious when attained. Lengthier accounts of travel on the Underground Railroad abound, but few if any portray the experience with such compelling immediacy. (afterword)(Picture book. 5-9)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2011 (Author)
One Crazy Summer
Book Jacket   Rita Williams Garcia
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780060760892 Eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters spend the summer of 1968 in Oakland visiting the mother who deserted them and getting an unexpected education in revolution from the Black Panthers. Williams-Garcia writes vividly about that turbulent summer through the intelligent, funny, blunt voice of Delphine, who observes outsiders and her own family with shrewdness and a keen perception. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A flight from New York to Oakland, Calif., to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned Delphine and her two sisters was the easy part. Once there, the negative things their grandmother had said about their mother, Cecile, seem true: She is uninterested in her daughters and secretive about her work and the mysterious men in black berets who visit. The sisters are sent off to a Black Panther day camp, where Delphine finds herself skeptical of the worldview of the militants while making the best of their situation. Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings: "Just like I know how to lift my sisters up, I also knew how to needle them just right." Each girl has a distinct response to her motherless state, and Williams-Garcia provides details that make each characterization crystal clear. The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2011 (Illustrator)
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
 illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316107310 Slave and accomplished potter Dave (last name unknown) left behind a legacy of artistic work in the form of beautifully sculpted ceramic jars. In lyrical poetry, Hill writes a tribute to the man; Collier's majestic watercolor collages reflect Dave's artistry. The book's pacing is especially well conceived, the illustrations shown in tempo with the text's descriptions of throwing a pot. Websites. Bib. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. (Picture book/poetry/biography. 7-10)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2010 (Author)
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall
 Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. He rode tall in the saddle and excelled at riding, shooting, tracking and every other skill required of a man representing the law in the vast and often lawless American frontier known as Indian Territory in the late 1800s. Born into slavery in Texas, he fled from his owner during the Civil War and lived with Indians, honing his skills until he was chosen for what turned out to be a very long and very successful career as a deputy U.S. Marshal. Nelson's well-researched biography reads much like a tall tale or frontier legendas well it should: "Outlaws learned that when Marshal Reeves had your warrant, you were as good as got." Christie's bold full-page paintings echo the heroic spirit. The text is frequently laid out in the style of old-time wanted posters on yellowing paper. Gary Paulsen's The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006) previously presented his life as a novel. Here, children can saddle up with a genuine Western hero in a narrative that hits the bull's-eye. (glossary, timeline, bibliography, notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. He rode tall in the saddle and excelled at riding, shooting, tracking and every other skill required of a man representing the law in the vast and often lawless American frontier known as Indian Territory in the late 1800s. Born into slavery in Texas, he fled from his owner during the Civil War and lived with Indians, honing his skills until he was chosen for what turned out to be a very long and very successful career as a deputy U.S. Marshal. Nelson's well-researched biography reads much like a tall tale or frontier legendas well it should: "Outlaws learned that when Marshal Reeves had your warrant, you were as good as got." Christie's bold full-page paintings echo the heroic spirit. The text is frequently laid out in the style of old-time wanted posters on yellowing paper. Gary Paulsen's The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006) previously presented his life as a novel. Here, children can saddle up with a genuine Western hero in a narrative that hits the bull's-eye. (glossary, timeline, bibliography, notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2010 (Illustrator)
My People
Book Jacket   illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Hughes first published "My People" in 1923. Bold photographs that joyfully celebrate the diversity of African-American culture bring this simple text to life once again. Faces of various skin tones and ages, and both genders, explode from the black background of each page, all reproduced in faintly antiqued sepia tones that both befit the Jazz Age origins of the poem and give glorious depth to the faces depicted. The image that illustrates "The stars are beautiful" is of hair ornaments in deep, rich, black hair; light-bathed faces look up into an implied "sun." Smith's eye for detail and his extraordinary photographs eloquently express the pride and love the poet felt for his people, capturing equally the curiosity and excitement of youth and the experience and wisdom of elders. The simple yet brilliant photographs fully occupy the page; filmstrip-like thumbnails at the edges provide a visual rhythm. All together, they are the perfect accompaniment to the classic poem and create a complex work of art that any age can relish. (photographer's note) (Picture book. 2-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781416935407 Reflecting Hughes's powerful words, Smith's sepia-tone photographs depict African Americans across generations. Aged, toil-worn hands represent the past, a mother with child holds onto the present, and hopeful youths look ahead into the future. Text and visuals seamlessly acclaim: "Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people." Poetry for all ages and peoples. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2009 (Author)
We are the ship : the story of Negro League baseball
Book Jacket   words and paintings by Kadir Nelson ; foreward by Hank Aaron.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780786808328 Imagine listening to Willie Mays and Ernie Banks swapping tales. That easygoing, conversational storytelling is what Nelson achieves in this pitch-perfect history of Negro League baseball. His extensive research yields loads of attention-grabbing details. The grand slam, though, is the art: Nelson's oil paintings have a steely dignity, and his from-the-ground perspectives make the players look larger than life. Bib., ind. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Nelson continues to top himself with each new book. Here, working solo for the first time, he pays tribute to the hardy African-American players of baseball's first century with a reminiscence written in a collective voice—"But you know something? We had many Josh Gibsons in the Negro Leagues. We had many Satchel Paiges. But you never heard about them"—matched to a generous set of full-page painted portraits and stadium views. Generally viewed from low angles, the players seem to tower monumentally, all dark-skinned game faces glowering up from the page and big, gracefully expressive hands dangling from powerful arms. Arranging his narrative into historical "Innings," the author closes with lists of Negro Leaguers who played in the Majors, and who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, plus a detailed working note. Along with being absolutely riveted by the art, readers will come away with a good picture of the Negro Leaguers' distinctive style of play, as well as an idea of how their excellence challenged the racial attitudes of both their sport and their times. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2009 (Illustrator)
The blacker the berry : poems
 by Joyce Carol Thomas ; illustrated by Floyd Cooper.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. "What shade is human?" Thomas's evocative, colorful poetry seeks to answer that question with this celebration of the diversity of African-American children across the spectrum. From "Raspberry Black" to "Golden Goodness," Cooper's soft and realistic illustrations almost leap from the page, incorporating natural images from the text in their depiction of a gallery of beautiful, self-confident children. Difficult intraracial social issues related to skin color are handled with truth and respect. For instance, in the poem "Snowberries," a fair-skinned child speaks back to those who would question her identity: "The words cut deep down / Beyond the bone / Beneath my snowy skin / Deep down where no one can see / I bleed the 'one drop of blood' / That makes Black me." On the page opposite, an auburn-haired girl smiles at the reader, eyes twinkling. An essential picture book that helps young children understand and appreciate differences in skin color. As the epigraph states so truthfully, "Colors, without black, / couldn't sparkle quite so bright." (Picture book/poetry. 5-10) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2008 (Illustrator)
Let it Shine
 Ashley Bryan
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An extra-large trim size, a vibrant palette and Bryan's glorious cut-paper collage illustrations add up to a marvelous interpretation of three traditional African-American spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Intriguing endpapers show larger-than-life hands set against flowing stripes of color, with scissors and cut-paper shapes hinting at the arresting artistic style within. Children in silhouette are the main design element for the first two songs, with the final song illustrated with remarkable images of huge hands holding up different elements of the world. The volume's large size and brilliant colors make this a natural choice for a rousing sing-along with a group, and the musical notation for the songs is included. Incorporated into these final spreads with the music are concluding illustrations for every song, each focusing on a shining source of light. (author's note) (Nonfiction. 3-8) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689847325 Using only cut-paper and clamorous, swirling, out-of-sight colors, Bryan sets three spirituals to pictures that are dynamic, monumental, and stirring. Throughout, the imagery is brilliant. Bryan has long been known for his exuberant decorative motifs, but in this instance, with three sets of lyrics that are themselves all imagery, his scope widens. With words and music appended: exciting, absorbing, immensely moving. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2008 (Author)
Elijah of Buxton
Book Jacket   Christopher Paul Curtis
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is known for two things: being the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, and throwing up on the great Frederick Douglass. It's 1859, in Buxton, a settlement for slaves making it to freedom in Canada, a setting so thoroughly evoked, with characters so real, that readers will live the story, not just read it. This is not a zip-ahead-and-see-what-happens-next novel. It's for settling into and savoring the rich, masterful storytelling, for getting to know Elijah, Cooter and the Preacher, for laughing at stories of hoop snakes, toady-frogs and fish-head chunking and crying when Leroy finally gets money to buy back his wife and children, but has the money stolen. Then Elijah journeys to America and risks his life to do what's right. This is Curtis's best novel yet, and no doubt many readers, young and old, will finish and say, "This is one of the best books I have ever read." (author's note) (Fiction. 9+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2007 (Author)
Copper Sun
Book Jacket   Sharon Draper
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689821813 Kidnapped from her village at fifteen and subjected to the horrific Middle Passage, Amari is sold to a South Carolina planter, along with Polly, a white indentured servant. Amari endures beatings and rape, but she finds a friend in Polly, who joins her escape. Some passages seem more told than shown, but Draper succeeds in dramatizing the slave experience. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Poignant and harrowing, this narrative of early America alternates between the voices of enslaved Amari and indentured servant Polly, building a believable interracial friendship centered on the common goal of freedom. Amari is captured from her idyllic home in Africa, and sold into slavery in the New World. While accounts of the attack on the tribe and the Middle Passage are ephemeral, the story hits its stride upon Amari's arrival in colonial South Carolina. At the slave auction, the reader is introduced to Amari's new masters and Polly, who is a new servant in their household. Polly initially dislikes the African slaves, viewing them as strange competition for limited work, yet grows to sympathize with Amari's plight when she is repeatedly raped by the master's son, Clay. Polly's cynicism and realistic outlook on life provides a welcome contrast to the lost innocence of Amari, whose voice often disappears beneath the misery of her circumstances (save for in one unforgettable passage at the end, where she encounters her betrothed from her village, and mourns the loss of what might have been). Sobering, yet essential. (Historical fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2007 (Illustrator)
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
 Carole Boston Weatherford
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In elegant free verse, Weatherford imagines Tubman's remarkable escape from slavery and her role in guiding hundreds to freedom. Diverse typography braids three distinct narrative strands. White or black type delivers the third-person immediacy of Harriet's journey: "At nightfall, Harriet climbs into a wagon, / and the farmer covers her with blankets. / As the wagon wobbles along, Harriet worries that it is heading to jail." Larger, italic type telegraphs the devout Harriet's prayerful dialogue with God: "Shall I leap, Lord?" God's responses to her beseeching questions garner capitalized letters in warm grays. Nelson's double-page, full-bleed paintings illuminate both the dire physical and transcendent spiritual journey. At night, the moon lights Harriet's care-wracked face below a deep teal, star-pricked sky. By day, she disappears: A distant safe farm appears under a wan blue sky; a wagon transporting the hidden Harriet silhouettes against a golden sunset. Unique perspective and cropping reveal Tubman's heroism. Reaching Philadelphia, she's haloed in sunlight. Embracing her role as conductor, Harriet's face, eyes on the journey ahead, fairly bursts the picture plane against a blazing blue sky. Transcendent. (foreword, author's note) (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2006 (Author)
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue
 Julius Lester
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780786804900 In a dramatic program of monologues and conversations (with simple stage directions), Lester imaginatively reconstructs what could have been going on in the minds of fictional slaves and owners on a Georgia plantation on the concluding day of the largest slave auction in American history. The story provides a frequently surprising variety of responses to the events. An author's note discusses the historical record. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780786804900 In a dramatic program of monologues and conversations (with simple stage directions), Lester imaginatively reconstructs what could have been going on in the minds of fictional slaves and owners on a Georgia plantation on the concluding day of the largest slave auction in American history. The story provides a frequently surprising variety of responses to the events. An author's note discusses the historical record. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. On a day when rain came down "hard as sorrow," George Weems sets out to sell more slaves at one time than anyone ever had. Pierce Butler must sell off hundreds of slaves to cover gambling debts and 12-year-old Emma is one of his victims. Named after Lester's grandmother, whose mother was a slave, Emma is part of a large cast of characters—slaves, owners, businessmen and abolitionists—who tell their own stories, in their own voices. Interludes occasionally have characters return in old age to reflect on their lives since the auction, a brilliant technique that demonstrates, in some characters, the persistence of racist belief. Other, good-hearted, characters, white and black, act towards each other with respect and dignity and affirm the possibilities of conscience and common humanity even in the worst of times. This important novel, based on an actual slave auction in 1859, begs to be performed, though teachers and performers may be hesitant to utter the racist language of the day. Powerful theater and one of Lester's finest works. (cast of characters, author's note) (Fiction. 12+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2006 (Illustrator)
Rosa
Book Jacket   Nikki Giovanni
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Rosa Parks sat. "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." When she refused to move out of the neutral section of her bus to make way for white passengers, she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. She was tired of putting white people first. Giovanni's lyrical text and Collier's watercolor-and-collage illustrations combine for a powerful portrayal of a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement. The art complements and extends the text, with visual references to Emmett Till, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Martin Luther King, Jr. The yellowish hue of the illustrations represents the Alabama heat, the light emanating from Rosa Parks's face a shining beacon to all who would stand up for what's right. A dramatic foldout mural will make this important work even more memorable. An essential volume for classrooms and libraries. (Picture book. 5+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780805071061 Poet Giovanni's lightly fictionalized (and unsourced) feminist account of Rosa Parks's historic refusal to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 Montgomery emphasizes the role of the Women's Political Council but soft-pedals both the NAACP's contributions and Parks's own prior political activism. Handsome collage paintings with bold patterns and strong figures do more than ample justice to Parks's heroism. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2005 (Author)
Remember: The Journey to School Integration
Book Jacket   Toni Morrison
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Morrison attempts to tell the story of Southern school integration through archival photographs oddly juxtaposed with a confusing narrative. Introductory words explain that Morrison has "imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs chosen to help tell this story." Unfortunately, it's often difficult to tell who is doing the talking. On one page is a picture of black and white schoolchildren joyfully running out of school together; on the opposite page are white teenagers tipping a car. The text for both pages reads, "Great! Now we can have some fun!" Endnotes place each photo in historic context, but at least one note is inaccurate. Gov. George Wallace closed Huntsville schools, but the note states "integration in Huntsville schools took place without incident." Staying closer to the theme of school integration would have helped keep focus, especially in the later section, essentially a presentation of every civil-rights icon from Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King. While it's nice to see familiar photographs collected in one place, the overall feeling of the narrative is confusion. Younger children will need adults to help with interpretation. (timeline, photo notes) (Nonfiction. 8-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780618397402 To black-and-white photographs chronicling the history of African-American segregation and civil rights, Morrison appends captions imagining what those portrayed in each picture might be thinking. It's a dubious exercise, particularly in that several of the photos are of well-known people (Ruby Bridges, Elizabeth Eckford) perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. But the photographs, many of them signal images of the civil rights movement, are beautifully reproduced. Timeline. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2005 (Illustrator)
Ellington Was Not a Street
 Ntozake Shange
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689828843 Shange's elegiac poem ""Moon Indigo"" serves as text for this picture book, which presents the poem from the point of view of a little girl whose family is visited by some of the great African-American men of the mid-twentieth century: Ellington, Du Bois, Robeson. Nelson's cool-toned illustrations are sleek and sophisticated but represent the poem+powerful and sad on its own+on only its most superficial level. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Deeply colored paintings enrich this homage to African-American men who made history and influenced culture, including Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Dizzy Gillespie, and W.E.B. DuBois. Nelson's setting is a home, filled with the folks who made it happen, as observed by a small girl whose presence, greeting the guests or peeking around the corners, adds the child's point of view. The poetic text is spare, with only a few words on each spread, but they match the majesty of the scene. Children will need context to understand the brief lines, and happily, an author's note provides it. In bell hooks style, none of the lines or names are capitalized, nor do they have punctuation. Intended for children today who know these names as commemorative plaques on buildings or streets, the deceptively simple text reveals the feel of the Harlem Renaissance: "Politics as necessary as collards, music even in our dreams." A tribute to what these men did for African-Americans, indeed all Americans, is soulfully and succinctly stated: "Our doors opened like our daddy's arms, held us safe and loved." Exquisite. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2004 (Author)
The First Part Last
 Angela Johnson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689849220 Sixteen-year-old Bobby and his girlfriend, Nia, had planned to put their baby, Feather, up for adoption, but Feather becomes impossible to relinquish after, as the reader learns at book's end, pregnancy-related eclampsia leaves Nia in an irreversible coma. What resonate in this prequel to the Coretta Scott King Award+winning Heaven are the sacrifices Bobby makes for Feather's sake. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. "The rules: If she hollers, she is mine. If she needs to be changed, she is always mine. In the dictionary next to 'sitter,' there is not a picture of Grandma. It's time to grow up. Too late, you're out of time. Be a grown-up." Sixteen-year-old Bobby has met the love of his life: his daughter. Told in alternating chapters that take place "then" and "now," Bobby relates the hour-by-hour tribulations and joys of caring for a newborn, and the circumstances that got him there. Managing to cope with support, but little help, from his single mother (who wants to make sure he does this on his own), Bobby struggles to maintain friendships and a school career while giving his daughter the love and care she craves from him at every moment. By narrating from a realistic first-person voice, Johnson manages to convey a story that is always complex, never preachy. The somewhat pat ending doesn't diminish the impact of this short, involving story. It's the tale of one young man and his choices, which many young readers will appreciate and enjoy. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2004 (Illustrator)
Beautiful Blackbird
Book Jacket   Ashley Bryan
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689847318 Blackbird shares his gifts with the birds of Africa in this colorful read-aloud. This adaptation of an Ila story tells of long ago, when all the birds have solid colored, unpatterned feathers, and only Blackbird has any black at all. The other birds agree that Blackbird is the most beautiful, as his black feathers "gleam all colors in the sun." Blackbird mixes up a little something in his medicine gourd, and presents each bird with some black patterns of its own. The birds are happy with their new designs, and chorus, "Black is beautiful, UH-HUH." This telling, by the master storyteller, just aches to be read aloud; the lively rhythms keep the simple folktale rollicking along. The cut-paper collage illustrations are full of color, but it's of blandly similar intensity until Blackbird arrives with his blackening brew. Then the newly patterned birds, gleaming in high-contrast images with their new designs, make for visual excitement as they praise Blackbird for their new look. A good start at challenging learned ways of reading color that reserve black for scary or dull images, the text implies a racial metaphor (unless the refrain "black is beautiful" is focused only on rethinking artistic codes), yet whatever message of tolerance or self-love the text might hold is obscure. Blackbird talks of the difference a little black can make, but he also emphasizes that external appearances do not reflect the inner self. Which of the two is more important is never clarified. Still, the rolling language and appealing illustrations make this a must. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689847318 Here's a life-enhancing folktale from Zambia--how birds got their black markings--and a simple, scissors-and-brush way of using collage. Silhouetted birds, in shades of violet, yellow, green, blue, are oddly drab without markings. Ringdove asks Blackbird, the most beautiful, to paint him a necklace of black; Blackbird complies, then promises the others touches of black, too. In sum, we can all partake of the beauty of black. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2003 (Author)
Bronx Masquerade
Book Jacket   Nikki Grimes
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780803725690 This is almost like a play for 18 voices, as Grimes (Stepping Out with Grandma Mac, not reviewed, etc.) moves her narration among a group of high school students in the Bronx. The English teacher, Mr. Ward, accepts a set of poems from Wesley, his response to a month of reading poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. Soon there's an open-mike poetry reading, sponsored by Mr. Ward, every month, and then later, every week. The chapters in the students' voices alternate with the poems read by that student, defiant, shy, terrified. All of them, black, Latino, white, male, and female, talk about the unease and alienation endemic to their ages, and they do it in fresh and appealing voices. Among them: Janelle, who is tired of being called fat; Leslie, who finds friendship in another who has lost her mom; Diondra, who hides her art from her father; Tyrone, who has faith in words and in his "moms"; Devon, whose love for books and jazz gets jeers. Beyond those capsules are rich and complex teens, and their tentative reaching out to each other increases as through the poems they also find more of themselves. Steve writes: "But hey! Joy / is not a crime, though / some people / make it seem so." At the end of the term, a new student who is black and Vietnamese finds a morsel of hope that she too will find a place in the poetry. (Fiction. 12-15)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803725690 When Wesley writes a poem for English class instead of the assigned essay, he jump-starts Open Mike Fridays in his Bronx high school. Grimes creates a montage of eighteen voices who share a sense of isolation and yearning to belong. Whether their poems--one of which concludes each brief first-person prose piece--are in rap, free verse, or rhyme, these kids surprise one another in part with how much they are alike. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2003 (Illustrator)
Talkin About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
 E.B. Lewis
Horn Book (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780439352437 At Coleman's death, Grimes invites twenty individuals to a fictional wake and, in first-person testimonial verse, has each remember Bessie and the forces that shaped her life. Small sepia-toned portraits personalize the tributes. Watercolors on facing pages evoke each incident and often soften the harshness in Coleman's life. Grimes separates fact from fiction in an introduction and an endnote. Like Bessie, this tribute to her life soars. Bib. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780439352437 "Brave Bessie Coleman," the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot's license, has been the subject of several recent picture book biographies: (Fly, Bessie, Fly, by Lynn Joseph, 1998; Fly High!, by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger, 2001; Nobody Owns the Sky, by Reeve Lindbergh, 1996). Grimes takes an unusual, fictionalized approach to portraying this determined, undaunted woman who made aviation history. She recreates the voices of 20 people who supposedly knew Bessie, expressing their point of view in a free-verse format. Each double spread has the person's monologue with his or her name or role running down the edge of the page with a cameo drawing like a photo at the top; opposite is a full-page illustration in Lewis's typical style that strikingly adds dimension and context to the times and the woman. From her father, who left the large family in Texas, to sisters to flight instructor to news reporter to young fan, the monologue device succeeds somewhat in piecing together a portrait of this woman who braved hardships of both poverty and prejudice. Her dream was to open an aviation school for African-Americans, but a plane crash in 1926 ended her life at age 34. The handsome design, large format, and beautiful artwork make this very attractive, but the lack of source notes or clarification of what's fictionalized--especially quotes--and the strange opening scene set at Bessie's wake as she speaks to her mother from her photo on the mantel, will leave many readers confused. (Picture book. 8-10)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780439352437 At Coleman's death, Grimes invites twenty individuals to a fictional wake and, in first-person testimonial verse, has each remember Bessie and the forces that shaped her life. Small sepia-toned portraits personalize the tributes. Watercolors on facing pages evoke each incident and often soften the harshness in Coleman's life. Grimes separates fact from fiction in an introduction and an endnote. Like Bessie, this tribute to her life soars. Bib. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780439352437 "Brave Bessie Coleman," the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot's license, has been the subject of several recent picture book biographies: (Fly, Bessie, Fly, by Lynn Joseph, 1998; Fly High!, by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger, 2001; Nobody Owns the Sky, by Reeve Lindbergh, 1996). Grimes takes an unusual, fictionalized approach to portraying this determined, undaunted woman who made aviation history. She recreates the voices of 20 people who supposedly knew Bessie, expressing their point of view in a free-verse format. Each double spread has the person's monologue with his or her name or role running down the edge of the page with a cameo drawing like a photo at the top; opposite is a full-page illustration in Lewis's typical style that strikingly adds dimension and context to the times and the woman. From her father, who left the large family in Texas, to sisters to flight instructor to news reporter to young fan, the monologue device succeeds somewhat in piecing together a portrait of this woman who braved hardships of both poverty and prejudice. Her dream was to open an aviation school for African-Americans, but a plane crash in 1926 ended her life at age 34. The handsome design, large format, and beautiful artwork make this very attractive, but the lack of source notes or clarification of what's fictionalized--especially quotes--and the strange opening scene set at Bessie's wake as she speaks to her mother from her photo on the mantel, will leave many readers confused. (Picture book. 8-10)
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2002 (Author)
The Land
 Mildred Taylor
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803719507 Race complicates every relationship in young Paul Logan's life in this Reconstruction-era prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The son of a white land owner and his former slave, Paul comes to realize that to white folks he's ""my daddy's colored son"" and that black folks ""think I think I'm better than they are."" Taylor masterfully uses harsh historical realities to frame a powerful coming-of-age story that stands on its own merits. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780803719507 "Some white men took care of their colored children; most didn't. My daddy was one who did." This is the central conflict of Paul-Edward Logan's life: his daddy and white brothers love him, but he can never be their equal. His parentage sets him apart from the "colored" population as well, until he is virtually isolated in a society almost totally defined by color. This sprawling tale explores the history of the Logan family and the consequences of the miscegenation that caused diarist Mary Chesnut to call slavery the "monstrous institution." Pride causes Paul-Edward to leave his father's land in Georgia and make his way with his best friend to Mississippi. It is here, of course, that he finds and struggles to buy the land that will sustain the Logan family for generations to come. Readers have come to expect Taylor (The Well, 1995, etc.) to deliver a powerful story marked by defining moments that crystallize for the reader the unique cruelty of the post-Reconstruction South, and she continues to do so here. Paul-Edward encounters betrayal and brutality at every turn, from the brother who turns away as his white friends taunt Paul-Edward, to the lumber-camp boss who works him almost beyond endurance, to the landowner who reneges on a land deal. His narration has a tendency, however, to overexplain these events rather than letting them speak directly to the reader. This somewhat dilutes the power of the story; the narrator's mature distance from the events also saps the story of some of the immediacy found in other installments in the Logan saga. Still, readers who know the Logans will enjoy meeting the youthful avatars of familiar characters, especially the resolute Caroline-Cassie's Big Ma. Moreover, this is an aspect of the legacy of slavery not often confronted in children's books; Paul-Edward makes the reader feel its grotesque injustices. They will root for him, as they have for his children and grandchildren, to overcome. (author's note) (Fiction. 12 )
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2002 (Illustrator)
Goin Someplace Special
Book Jacket   Jerry Pinkney
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689818851 "(Primary) Young 'Tricia Ann is off to Someplace Special-and about to ""burst with excitement"" because her grandmother is letting her go there alone for the very first time. The journey is not an easy one: she must face the indignities of life in the Jim Crow South. She has to sit behind the sign on the bus that says ""COLORED SECTION."" She is not allowed to sit in the park by the Peace Fountain her stonemason grandfather helped build. She visits her friend the doorman at the elegant Southland Hotel and is asked to leave. ""What makes you think you can come inside? No colored people are allowed!"" the manager says. Despite these humiliations, 'Tricia Ann is strengthened at every turn by people who care about her and who bolster her with reminders to ""Carry yo'self proud"" and ""Don't let those signs steal yo' happiness."" Soon she reaches her beloved Someplace Special-the public library. The words carved in stone proclaim: ""Public Library: All Are Welcome."" Jerry Pinkney's illustrations place 'Tricia Ann at the center of each page, willing to face the challenges the outside world throws at her. Whether 'Tricia Ann is in her grandmother's kitchen (surrounded by bountiful fresh fruits and vegetables and the love they symbolize) or fearfully looking over her shoulder on the bus, Pinkney makes it clear that she will triumph. Though this story takes place in an unnamed Southern city, the helpful author's note states that McKissack was raised in Nashville, where, unlike many other Southern cities of the 1950s, the public libraries welcomed African Americans. The library pictured on the final pages, bathed in hopeful lemon sunshine, is the downtown library of 1950s Nashville. There are many books about a child's first trip alone, and many books about racism and the struggle for civil rights, but this book is about more than either: it is the story of a child facing a difficult time sustained by the support of the adults in her life. McKissack and Pinkney strike just the right balance in a picture book for young readers and listeners: informative without being preachy; hopeful without being sentimental. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved."
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689818851 In a story that will endear itself to children's librarians and, for that matter, all library lovers, 'Tricia Ann begs her grandmother to be allowed to go alone to Someplace Special. Mama Frances acquiesces, sending her off with instructions: " ?And no matter what, hold yo' head up and act like you b'long to somebody.' " 'Tricia Ann's special place is not revealed until the end, but on the way there, the humiliating racism she encounters on the city bus, in the park, and in a downtown hotel almost causes her to give up. " ?Getting to Someplace Special isn't worth it,' she sobbed." When she recalls her grandmother's words: " ?You are somebody, a human being-no better, no worse than anybody else in this world,' " she regains the determination to continue her journey, in spite of blatant segregation and harsh Jim Crow laws. " Public Library: All Are Welcome" reads the sign above the front door of Someplace Special; Mama Frances calls it "a doorway to freedom." Every plot element contributes to the theme, leaving McKissack's autobiographical work open to charges of didacticism. But no one can argue with its main themes: segregation is bad, learning and libraries are good. Pinkney's trademark watercolors teem with realistically drawn people, lush city scenes, and a spunky main character whose turquoise dress, enlivened with yellow flowers and trim, jumps out of every picture. A lengthy author's endnote fills in the background for adults on McKissack's childhood experiences with the Nashville Public Library. This library quietly integrated all of its facilities in the late 1950s, and provided her with the story's inspiration. A natural for group sharing; leave plenty of time for the questions and discussion that are sure to follow. (Picture book. 5-9)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689818851 This is the story of a child facing a difficult time sustained by the support of the adults in her life. Going alone for the first time, 'Tricia Ann is off to Someplace Special--the public library where ""All Are Welcome."" The journey isn't easy: she must face the indignities of life in the Jim Crow South. The text and art strike just the right balance: informative without being preachy; hopeful without being sentimental. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2001 (Author)
Miracles Boys
Book Jacket   Jacqueline Woodson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780807205259 Miracle's boys are battered survivors-their parents have died, and the brothers face the dangerous attractions of living on their own in a rundown urban neighborhood. Dul? Hill's delivery is abrupt, almost staccato, with a full stop at the end of nearly every sentence as if Lafayette, the story's narrator, is hesitant to plunge forward into an uncertain future. Hill's voice softens, however, when Lafayette, unable to bear the present, retreats into memories of his mother. Subtle, almost infinitesimal changes in vocal register neatly capture the very different personalities of Lafayette's two brothers: Charlie-recently returned from reform school-and Ty'ree, who is sacrificing his chance to go to college in order to keep the brothers together. Hill's narrative style lends a necessary strength to this gritty story of survival in the face of enormous odds. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780399231131 Another tale of the inner city that focuses on the real struggles of those live there, from Woodson (Lena, 1999, etc.). The Bailey boys are on their own: their father died from hypothermia after rescuing a woman and her dog from a frigid lake in Central Park, and their mother, Milagro, or Miracle, followed him in death when she could not afford the insulin she needed. Ty'ree, the oldest, has given up his dreams of college and a career in science and works full time in a publishing company mailroom so that he can feed and house himself and his brothers. Charlie, who was in a juvenile detention facility for armed robbery when his mother died and cannot ever forget it, is now home, but he is full of hatred and anger at the whole world, no longer the boy who once cried at the sight of a sick or injured animal. He directs some of his hatred at the youngest boy, Lafayette; between that and the devastation his mother's death, Lafayette finds that his world is in chaos. Readers will be caught up in this searing and gritty story of their struggle; Woodson composes a plot without easy answers, and creates characters for whom predictable behavior is all but impossible. A decent, involving novel about a family struggling to remain intact in spite of tremendous obstacles. (Fiction. 10-13)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399231131 This compelling novel about three African-American brothers is oddly reminiscent of S. E. Hinton's early novels, with its streetwise, self-sufficient orphans. Although there is little action in a story that is told almost entirely through dialogue and thirteen-year-old Lafayette's thoughts and memories, the narrator's voice maintains a tone of sweet melancholy that is likely to hold the attention of thoughtful young teens. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2001 (Illustrator)
Uptown
 Bryan Collier
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Collier debuts with a set of dazzling paint-and-photo collages paired to a child's tribute to his Harlem neighborhood. From his window the young narrator sees "Uptown" in the Metro North commuter train crawling caterpillar-like over the river; sisters in matching dresses parading to church; weekend shoppers on 125th Street; jazz; Van Der Zee photographs; playground basketball; chicken and waffles served any time of day. ("At first it seems like a weird combination, but it works.") This complex, many-layered vibe is made almost tangible by the kaleidoscopic illustrations. For instance, the row of brownstones "…when you look at them down the block. They look like they're made of chocolate." Indeed, their bricks are photos of chocolate bars. Walter Dean Myers's poem Harlem (1997), illustrated in similar style by Christopher Myers, conveys a deeper sense of the African American community's history, but this makes an engagingly energetic once-over. (Picture book. 7-9) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780805057218 A young boy proudly takes the reader uptown to tour his Harlem, one of the world's most famous neighborhoods. From small intimate places such as the local barbershop to the world-famous Apollo Theater, the reader's senses are bathed in the sights and sounds that make Harlem this small boy's paradise. Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations, showing contemporary city scenes, are bold and striking, but at times they are too ornate for this lighthearted book. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2000 (Author)
Bud, Not Buddy
 Christopher Paul Curtis
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385323062 It's the Depression, and Bud is ten and has been in and out of the Flint, Michigan, children's home and foster homes since his mother died. After a particularly terrible, though riotously recounted, evening with his latest foster family, Bud decides to take off and find the man he believes is his father, bandleader Herman E. Calloway. Bud's fresh voice keeps the sentimentality to a minimum, and the story zips along in step with Bud's own panache. Reviewed by: rs (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2000 (Illustrator)
In the Time of the Drums
Book Jacket   Kim L. Siegelson and Brian Pinkney
Horn Book (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780786804368 Age: 4-6 Off the coast of Georgia, slaves leave a ship, then turn and walk into the water, led by an Ibo conjure woman, chanting """"the water can take us home."""" Siegelson adapts this tale, changing the death, or """"slave's freedom,"""" into an actual ability to walk beneath water. Rhythmic dialect in the text is deftly balanced by the narrative's slow, dignified cadences. The art reflects the allegorical nature of the tale, revealing both the real and the imagined, sorrow and joy. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: nv (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780786804368 Age: 4-6 Off the coast of Georgia, slaves leave a ship, then turn and walk into the water, led by an Ibo conjure woman, chanting """"the water can take us home."""" Siegelson adapts this tale, changing the death, or """"slave's freedom,"""" into an actual ability to walk beneath water. Rhythmic dialect in the text is deftly balanced by the narrative's slow, dignified cadences. The art reflects the allegorical nature of the tale, revealing both the real and the imagined, sorrow and joy. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: nv (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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1999 (Author)
Heaven
Book Jacket   Angela Johnson
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689822292 After spending most of her life in bucolic Heaven, Ohio, a teenager finds her certainties come tumbling down. Marley Carroll likes her family, has two steady friends, and a wandering uncle, Jack, who sends her poetic letters describing his travels and asking about her thoughts and dreams. Her peace is shattered by the arrival of a different sort of letter, addressed to ``Monna Floyd,'' from an Alabama deacon trying to reconstruct a burnt church's records; the people she calls Momma and Pops apologetically explain that they are actually her aunt and uncle, that Jack is her father, and that her mother died in an auto accident when she was very young. Devastated, cast adrift, Marley searches for her parents in a small box of mementos, and in early memories, meanwhile struggling, in light of her new knowledge, to redefine her other relationships. Ultimately, in her friends' situations as in her own, Marley finds clear evidence that love, more than blood, makes a family. Johnson (see review, above) uses the present tense to give her ruminative, sparely told story a sense of immediacy, creates a varied, likeable supporting cast and, without explicitly addressing every loose end, communicates a clear sense that Marley?and Jack, still working through his grief?are going to be all right. (Fiction. 11-13)
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1999 (Illustrator)
I See the Rhythm
 Michele Wood
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1998 (Author)
Forged by Fire
 Sharon Draper
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689806995 Fiction: O The drunk driving accident that killed a teenage basketball player in [cf2]Tears of a Tiger[cf1] is replayed in this companion novel that focuses on another member of the basketball team. Gerald must protect his half-sister Angel from his violent and sexually abusive stepfather in a downbeat story that contains occasional moments of power but too often sacrifices realism and subtlety for trite dialogue and overblown emotion. Horn Rating: Marginal, seriously flawed, but with some redeeming quality. Reviewed by: pds (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689806995 An African-American boy grows into a decent man, a loving brother, and a steadfast son despite the cruelties of his childhood in this latest novel by Draper (Tears of a Tiger, 1994, not reviewed, etc.). Although three-year-old Gerald is burned in the fire caused by his drug-addicted mother Monique's recklessness, his life takes a turn for the better: The court sends him to live with his aunt, Queen. Wheelchair-bound and poor, Queen has a loving heart and boundless spirit that nourish and cultivate Gerald for six years, until his mother walks back into his life. When Queen abruptly dies, Gerald moves into Monique's home, where he becomes devoted to his younger half-sister, Angel, and suffers at the hands of his mother's new husband. Jordan is a bully, drunk, and child molester; while Angel and Gerald get him convicted (the police show up as Jordan is about to abuse Angel), he eventually returns to haunt the family after serving his jail term. While Draper's narrative is riveting, it is also rife with simplistic characterizations: Aunt Queen is all-good, Monique is all-stupid, and Jordan is all-evil. In addition, there are enough logical twists in the plot without the seemingly gratuitous death of Gerald's friend, Rob. A touching story, burdened by contrivances. (Fiction. 12-14)
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1998 (Illustrator)
In Daddys Arms I Am Tall
Book Jacket   Javaka Steptoe
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781880000311 Fiction: NF Age: K-3 The son of the late illustrator John Steptoe has made a stunning debut in a collection of poetry honoring African-American fathers. Images created by using a variety of materials and art forms are often a perfect match for poems by such writers as Angela Johnson, Davida Adedjouma, and E. Ethelbert Miller. This title will be as at home in art classrooms as in language arts classes and libraries. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: dt (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Steptoe (son of the late John Steptoe) creates art for 13 poems that honor fathers, e.g., Sonia Sanchez's ""I have looked into/my father's eyes and seen an/african sunset."" Among others who have contributed to the volume are Folami Abiade (with the title poem), Lenard D. Moore, Dakari Hru, and Dinah Johnson. At times, elements of the poets' subject matter are depicted--photographed pennies are the background for the portrait of one father. Some poems are better than others; some are more message than art, although all of them are appealing. A particularly memorable sentiment is found in Davida Adedjouma's ""Artist to Artist,"" in which a woman appreciates that her artist father sorted mail ""all night and into the day"" for the family, and passed on to her the ""urge to create/characters with meat on their bones, in flesh-colored tones written in words as vivid"" as her crayon-box colors. Each piece elicits a work of art that translates beautifully to the printed page, from the jacket's gallery of small paintings to the half-title's portrait of a family--with smudged limbs and torsos, and heads made from painted discs or buttons--framed by colorful wooden heads. Brief biographies of the contributors appear in the back of this inventive, evocative book. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1997 (Author)
Slam
Book Jacket   Walter Dean Myers
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780590486675 A Harlem teenager learns how to apply the will he has to win at hoops to other parts of his life in this vivid, fluent story from Myers (Toussaint L'Ouverture, p. 1472, etc.). Greg ``Slam'' Harris is justly proud of his game, but he realizes that NBA daydreams don't cut it in the classrooms of his new South Bronx magnet school- -and that the tough talk that serves him so well on the street only gets his teachers and his college-bound girlfriend, Mtisha, on his case. Writing in a rolling, fast- break style that sounds so authentic that the absence of rough language is hardly noticeable, Myers brilliantly captures the pace and feel of inner city life as he climbs into the shoes of an angry, confused young man watching his friends making right or wrong turns, and wondering about his own direction. The author plots with rare skill: Slam simultaneously works to mend fences with Mtisha, nerves himself to find out whether his suddenly prosperous main man, Ice, has turned to dealing, and leads the school's unprepossessing team through a series of exciting games to a conference championship. Few writers can match Myers for taut, savvy basketball action, and in those scenes he's at the top of his form. Some loose ends may stay untied, but Slam, after hearing his assistant coach's comment that not all games end at the buzzer, is beginning to find a way to make his pride work for, rather than against, him. Persuasive. (Fiction. 12-15)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780590486675 Fiction: O Seventeen-year-old Greg Harris is known as Slam for his incredible skill on the basketball court. When he goes to a new school -- a magnet school where African Americans are in the minority -- he faces a host of challenges and conflicts. Myers never presents easy solutions in his novels, and readers will appreciate the honesty with which he portrays the dreams of one Harlem teenager. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: mvk (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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1997 (Illustrator)
Minty
 Jerry Pinkney
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780803718883 A fictional extrapolation of a few facts about Harriet Tubman's childhood--her unruliness, her punishments, and her plans for escape from slavery. ``Minty'' is a small, high-spirited child, cherishing a few moments away from the mistress, Mrs. Brodas, who burns Minty's doll when the girl doesn't come when she's called. From that day, Minty becomes a field slave and begins to acquire the information she needs from others for her future journey. Schroeder (Carolina Shout!, 1995, etc.) is a miniaturist, creating a narrative of handpicked details (Minty's doll with cracked buttons for her eyes) and inspired episodes (Minty's father teaching her to follow the North Star). Told in rhythmic prose and colloquial dialogue, the plot has actual events that are small, but it is rich with melodrama, suspense, pathos, and, of course, a powerful vision of freedom. Pinkney's illustrations exhibit, characteristically, his refined draftsmanship; the complicated compositions convey psychological aspects of slavery and make the individual characters even more distinct. This exquisitely crafted book resonates well beyond its few pages. (Picture book. 5-9)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803718883 Fiction: mbs Age: n A fictionalized account based on fact details the early life of Harriet Tubman, whose Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: cradle name"""" was Araminta (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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1996 (Author)
Her Stories
 Virginia Hamilton
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780590473682 Affirming the value of existing family ties as she perceptively explores the formation of new ones, Hamilton elaborates on themes from Cousins (1990) with a populous sequel. As the Wright clan gathers for a rare family reunion, 12-year-old Cammy meets Jahnina, an oddly mercurial relative from New York City dubbed ``Fractal'' because she's seldom without her laptop computer. Unable to keep relationships straight, Cammy decides to think of all the young new arrivals as second cousins?until Jahnina calls Cammy's own father ``Daddy'' and turns the world upside down. Hamilton masterfully choreographs the dance of acquaintanceship, from tentative first exchanges, through tests and boundary-making, to discoveries of common ground; Cammy ultimately gets more help recovering from her shock from Jahnina than from either of her parents. In a grand, climactic reunion ceremony, presided over by Gram Tut Wright, all finally gather at the river where a cousin had drowned a year ago to lay flowers in the water, and to formally tell their names and places in the family line. Along with the strong story line, readers will be absorbed both by the author's language (alternately slangy and poetic), and by the complex emotional and conversational textures. (Fiction. 11-13)
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1996 (Illustrator)
The Middle Passage
Book Jacket   Tom Feelings
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780803718043 ``Illustrated books are a natural extension of [the] African oral tradition'' of storytelling, writes Caldecott Awardwinning artist Tom Feelings. Here, in 64 powerful black-and-white paintingssome of them harshly realistic, others nightmarishly phantasmagoricthis noted artist tells a neglected part of the story of African-American slavery: the cruel journey known as ``the middle passage,'' in which millions, perhaps tens of millions, of Africans died before ever reaching American shores. The soft edges of Feelings's art, the blended grays of his palette, do nothing to mute the violence that permeates these images: the bowed bodies of captured Africans being led away under the whip; rows and rows and rows of bodies crammed side by side, shackled together, in dark, filthy holds beneath deck; the agony of a man remembering a baby viciously murdered. Feelings's purpose here, however, is not vengeful but cathartic. Through remembering and understanding the sources of their continuing pain, he believes that Africans can turn the chains of bondage into ``spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future . . . whether living inside or outside of the continent of Africa.''
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780803718043 ``Illustrated books are a natural extension of [the] African oral tradition'' of storytelling, writes Caldecott Awardwinning artist Tom Feelings. Here, in 64 powerful black-and-white paintingssome of them harshly realistic, others nightmarishly phantasmagoricthis noted artist tells a neglected part of the story of African-American slavery: the cruel journey known as ``the middle passage,'' in which millions, perhaps tens of millions, of Africans died before ever reaching American shores. The soft edges of Feelings's art, the blended grays of his palette, do nothing to mute the violence that permeates these images: the bowed bodies of captured Africans being led away under the whip; rows and rows and rows of bodies crammed side by side, shackled together, in dark, filthy holds beneath deck; the agony of a man remembering a baby viciously murdered. Feelings's purpose here, however, is not vengeful but cathartic. Through remembering and understanding the sources of their continuing pain, he believes that Africans can turn the chains of bondage into ``spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future . . . whether living inside or outside of the continent of Africa.''
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1995 (Author)
Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
Book Jacket   Patricia McKissack
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780590430272 Fiction: NF Age: 4-6 Celebrations on a Virginia plantation in 1859 are presented from two perspectives: that of the slaveholding family and that of the slaves. Descriptions of Christmas preparations fill the text, and colorful paintings reflect the period. Lurking beneath the gaiety, however, is fearful talk among the whites of black insurrectionists and the possibility of war, while the slaves speak of rumors of emancipation. Bib. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: lfa (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780590430272 It's Christmas 1859 on a Virginia plantation. The family in the Big House and the slaves in the Quarters prepare for their celebrations. It is a happy time for everyone. Families are united. Feast are prepared. Singing and dancing are seen everywhere. The McKissacks (The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, 1994, etc.) have written a strangely romantic view of a pre-emancipation Christmas. Not that there isn't talk of freedom among the slaves, and of uprising among the whites; it's just not clear why these slaves are unhappy. They are obviously poorer than their masters, but, except for a New Year's Day separation of black family members, plantation life doesn't seem at all bad. Thompson's glowing pictures, depicting well-dressed, healthy slaves and their masters celebrating together do nothing to dispel this impression. Perhaps if the McKissacks had shown the contrast between Christmas and the rest of the year more clearly, rather than assuming that their readers would all understand the evils of slavery, their book might have been more successful. It's tricky to reclaim traditions from an unhappy past. The line between glorifying aspects of slave culture and seeming to ignore the brute evil of slavery is thin. Unfortunately, the McKissacks have stepped over. (Historical fiction/Picture book. 8-13)
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1995 (Illustrator)
The Creation
 James Ransome
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780316467445 ``Then God smiled./And the light broke./And the darkness rolled up on one side./And the light stood shining on the other./And God said: That's good!'' This poem first appeared in God's Trombones in 1927; it's a wonderfully sonorous retelling, gracefully reflecting the story's nobility while renewing it with vivid imagery and an easy informality that never detracts from its dignity. Golembe (Why the Sky Is Far Away, 1992) provides the perfect visual complement: vibrant paintings in broad, freely rendered areas of rich, dark color, splendidly imaginative and decorative. Elephants are as magenta as flamingoes in Golembe's Eden, while Adam and Eve are handsome black silhouettes. An outstanding rendering, not to be missed. (Poetry/Picture book. 4+)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316467445 Fiction: NF Age: K-3 Written in 1919, the poem celebrates, in simple but rhythmic language, God's creation of the world and human beings. Golembe's somewhat primitive artwork, in glowing shades of blue, pink, and green, projects exuberance and joy. Horn Rating: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: aed (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780823410699 In the spirit of Johnson's poetic voice, which Ransome describes as ``influenced by the...imagery of nineteenth-century African-American plantation preachers,'' the romantic, sun- dappled paintings here are more literal than Carla Golembe's striking, boldly stylized art for her edition (1993) of this splendid verse retelling by the well-loved poet. Pictures of an African-American preacher and his rapt audience of children alternate with handsome full-bleed spreads depicting the six days of creation: what might be the Grand Canyon; a stream rushing through rocks; a blossom-strewn forest floor beside the stream; and so on, to a dark man among the flowers. Rhythmic friezes of animals adorn the text pages of this carefully structured, realistic presentation. The style could hardly be more different from Golembe's: less provocative, more conventional and accessible, yet also painted with real artistry and conviction. It's a measure of the poem's quality that it inspires such a rich variety of responses. (Poetry/Picture book. 4+)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780823410699 Fiction: NF Age: K-3 Ransome sets Johnson's spirited narrative poem in a Southern countryside, where five children sit listening to a storyteller. Punctuated between contemporary paintings of the man and his listeners are six impressionistic double-page spreads, in vibrant gold, green, and blue hues, depicting scenes of the Creation of the Earth, sky, animals, and, finally, human beings. These colorful illustrations capture the dramatic mood of Johnson's poem. Horn Rating: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: lfa (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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