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Rich with affection, wit, and joy, a captivating peek into Chinese village life.

Wang looks back on her childhood in Inner Mongolia.

Eight-year-old Jin lives in a one-room mud house in a village of 18 homes with her parents and two younger brothers. “In this small space, we ran into each other all the time,” she says. Life isn’t easy: Water is scarce, hunger is constant, and windstorms whip in from the desert. Offering a child’s-eye view, the adult Wang explains it all in a charmingly matter-of-fact voice. She writes with humor and fondness for her childhood home, employing an understated style that conveys entire essays’ worth of insight in just a few words. About her habit of climbing trees, she says that her mother “was afraid I would fall and break my head open, like a melon. Also she worried that I would rip the pants that had taken her so long to stitch. I am not sure which worry was worse.” Each chapter describes a seemingly mundane episode that nevertheless feels fascinating: traveling with her father to fetch water, speculating about—and looking for—the wolves in the nearby hills, enduring a big storm, foraging for mushrooms, awaiting visits from the popcorn man, having a family portrait taken, and more. Readers will be drawn in by Jin’s delightful voice and will become invested in her stories. The text is broken up by warm, black-and-white spot art, rendered in ink and pencil.

Rich with affection, wit, and joy, a captivating peek into Chinese village life. (authors’ and illustrator’s notes) (Memoir. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593563618

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case.

The distinguished jurist stands tall as a role model.

Not literally tall, of course—not only was she actually tiny but, as with all the other bobbleheaded caricatures in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, Ginsburg, sporting huge eyeglasses on an outsize head over black judicial robes even in childhood, remains a doll-like figure in all of Eliopoulos’ cartoon scenes. It’s in the frank acknowledgment of the sexism and antisemitism she resolutely overcame as she went from reading about “real female heroes” to becoming one—and also the clear statement of how she so brilliantly applied the principle of “tikkun olam” (“repairing the world”) in her career to the notion that women and men should have the same legal rights—that her stature comes clear. For all the brevity of his profile, Meltzer spares some attention for her private life, too (“This is Marty. He loved me, and he loved my brains. So I married him!”). Other judicial activists of the past and present, all identified and including the current crop of female Supreme Court justices, line up with a diversely hued and abled group of younger followers to pay tribute in final scenes. “Fight for the things you care about,” as a typically savvy final quote has it, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case. (timeline, photos, source list, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593533338

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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