Books by Frank Morrison

THE SECRET GARDEN OF GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER by Gene Barretta
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 14, 2020

"Memorable art earns this biography a respectable place on the shelf. (timeline, bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-9)"
George Washington Carver tended a secret garden of flowers before becoming known for his skill in agriculture. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 15, 2019

"No way around it, this book is supa-dupa fly, with lush illustrations anchored in signature hip-hop iconography for the future of the global hip-hop nation. (Picture book. 4-14)"
Morrison's illustrations set the stage for Weatherford's rhythmic history in verse, breaking from hip-hop's early influences to today's global hip-hop takeover. Read full book review >
STARSTRUCK by Kathleen Krull
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

"An informative and entertaining title for aspiring young scientists. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)"
An introduction to the brilliant African-American astrophysicist who, from an early age, found his passion in the skies. Read full book review >
I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT by Connie Schofield-Morrison
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"Soul-stirring and sure to put readers in a festive mood. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Christmas spirit is expressed in joyous and reflective onomatopoeic exclamations in this new holiday staple, a follow-up to I Got the Rhythm (2014). Read full book review >
HOW SWEET THE SOUND by Carole Boston Weatherford
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2018

"An enriching picture of a hymn that has touched hearts over centuries and across the world. (author's note, further reading, listening, and viewing) (Informational picture book. 5-10)"
In rhyming verse, Weatherford depicts the origin and longevity of the hymn "Amazing Grace." Read full book review >
THE ADVENTURES OF WRONG MAN AND POWER GIRL! by C. Alexander London
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 6, 2018

"A lighthearted adventure story that charms and entertains. (Picture book. 3-7)"
"If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?" Not Wrong Man! Read full book review >
LET THE CHILDREN MARCH by Monica Clark-Robinson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 2, 2018

"A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event. (timeline, afterword, artist's statement, quote sources, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)"
A vibrantly illustrated account of the Birmingham Children's Crusade through the eyes of a young girl who volunteers to participate. Read full book review >
MARCH FORWARD, GIRL by Melba Pattillo Beals
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 2, 2018

"A valuable addition to the stories of life in Jim Crow America. (Memoir. 10-16)"
One of the Little Rock Nine describes her childhood in the years leading up to the 1957 event. Read full book review >
MUHAMMAD ALI by Gene Barretta
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"An eye-catching if incomplete treatment of the legend. (Picture book/biography. 3-7)"
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali comes to life for young readers. Read full book review >
THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE by Pat Zietlow Miller
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Sweet and inspiring. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Two little girls compete to meet a local hero. Read full book review >
BALLERINA DREAMS by Michaela DePrince
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"A title sure to attract ballet aficionados, with added appeal for its depiction of an adoptive family and a ballerina who just happens to be black. (Early reader/memoir. 6-8)"
This autobiographical title for newly independent readers will reward efforts with an inspiring story about ballerina Michaela DePrince's life and passion for dance. Read full book review >
LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE by Katheryn Russell-Brown
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2014

"Readers will agree that 'Melba Doretta Liston was something special.' (Picture book. 4-8)"
Bewitched by the rhythms of jazz all around her in Depression-era Kansas City, little Melba Doretta Liston longs to make music in this fictional account of a little-known jazz great. Read full book review >
I GOT THE RHYTHM by Connie Schofield-Morrison
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 3, 2014

"A lively celebration of music and expressive dance. (Picture book. 3-6)"
The beat is all around her when a girl takes a walk in the park with her mother. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 3, 2012

"Still, what baseball fan won't thrill at this game that included the likes of the Brown Bomber, Willie 'the Devil' Wells and the Tan Cheetah? (Historical fiction. 8-12)"
Some of the best-ever baseball players face off in 1934 at the second annual Negro League All-Star game in Chicago. Read full book review >
SHOEBOX SAM by Mary Brigid Barrett
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2011

"A heartfelt exercise in morality with occasional stumbles along the way. (Picture book. 4-8)"
All those who labor and are footsore, find relief with Shoebox Sam. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Dec. 21, 2010

Weinstein, author of the lighthearted picture book When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2008), lofts another tribute, this time in short chapters. The subtitle's belied straightaway as the narrator, Armstrong's first cornet, begins opining enthusiastically from the display window of a New Orleans "hock shop." Claiming that Louis would "talk to me as if we were brothers, tell me every note in his life" and invoking Armstrong's lifelong journaling habit, the narrator liberally interjects dialogue and serves as a sort of touchstone for the impoverished boy's musical dreams. Biographical details, mostly sanitized for primary graders, enrich the upbeat text, and although a few of Louis' scrapes with police are highlighted, the emphasis is on Armstrong's extraordinary musical gifts and the appreciation with which they were met, from childhood street quartets through his arrival in Chicago. A glossary defines words like "outhouse" and "vocalist" but not the oft-used term "colored." Best enjoyed as fiction, it's still a resonant first connection to Armstrong's hard-knock beginnings, determination and towering jazz innovations. Illustrations not seen. (afterword, references) (Historical fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
KEENA FORD AND THE SECRET JOURNAL MIX-UP by Melissa Thomson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Keena and her friends are back—still in second grade, and Keena is still keeping a journal. Something is different with it, though. Her special clouds-and-rainbows journal has been taken by the very mean Tiffany, who is using its contents to blackmail Keena into being her friend. Keena does not see a way out of her predicament until her brother helps her find a solution. The journal format seems particularly strained in this third installment of the series, and Keena's observations are uneven—calling Tiffany a "muffinhead" at one turn, then telling a long fable, complete with a moral, and then, a few moments later, not knowing how many TV shows take place in 30 minutes. All the action takes place and is recorded in a four-day period—quite an accomplishment for a second grader. While readers will be glad that Keena discovers that friends can actually be related to you, the surprisingly adult voice of second grader Keena and quick resolution of a real problem will strain credulity. (Chapter book. 6-9)Read full book review >
FOR THE LOVE OF SOCCER! by Pelé
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 25, 2010

The legendary soccer player composes a stirring ode to his beloved sport. In first-person narration, Pelé describes his lifetime passion for the game, which began in childhood. In succinct yet eloquent prose he evokes the essence of soccer, making it accessible to a very young audience. Readers vicariously experience the thrill of a well-played game, culminating in the exhilaration of scoring a goal. Particular emphasis is placed on the value of teamwork and good sportsmanship. Morrison's vibrant, energetic illustrations depict a dual story. Each two-page spread features vignettes from Pelé's career on one page (subtly aging their subject over the course of the book), while the facing page reveals a parallel story line of a modern-day child learning to love the game. The vivid pictures, featuring slightly elongated figures and tilted perspectives, convey all the energy of this universal sport. A two-page addendum follows the story, describing the author's life and soccer career. A must-share for soccer enthusiasts of any age. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
LONG SHOT by Chris Paul
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 22, 2009

In this made-to-inspire autobiographical account, NBA All-Star Chris Paul recalls the difficulty he faced making it onto the school's basketball team. He knew he was good, but he feared he was just too short to make the team. Chris gets sage advice and support from his grandfather, his parents and his brother, which inspires him to practice extra-hard in the days leading up tryouts. When the big day arrives, his family members are all there to cheer him on as he overcomes taunting to perform well, earning himself the last spot on the team. Some awkwardness of prose and narrative flow notwithstanding, this title has valuable lessons to teach both children and adults about the importance of persistence, perspective and family support to kids who are learning to set goals and risk failure to accomplish them. Morrison's rich, vivid and dynamic illustrations portray the characters as realistic, likable people with plenty of personality. The volume ends with a note detailing Paul's accomplishments in college basketball and in the NBA. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
KEENA FORD AND THE FIELD TRIP MIX-UP by Melissa Thomson
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2009

Keena Ford's second-grade class is taking a field trip to the United States Capitol. This good-hearted girl works hard to behave, but her impulsive decisions have a way of backfiring, no matter how hard she tries to do the right thing. In this second book in a series, Keena cuts off one of her braids and later causes a congressman to fall down the stairs. The first-person journal format is a stretch—most second graders can barely write, let alone tell every detail of three days of her life. Children will wonder how Keena can cut one of her "two thick braids" all the way off by pretend-snipping in the air. They will be further confused because the cover art clearly shows Keena with a completely different hairdo on the field trip than the one described. Though a strong African-American heroine is most welcome in chapter books and Keena and her family are likable and realistic, this series needs more polish before Keena writes about her next month in school. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE HAT THAT WORE CLARA B.  by Melanie Turner-Denstaedt
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 8, 2009

Mother's Sunday is the day older women wear their finest white suits and fanciest hats to church. Clara B.'s favorite is Grandma's hat, about which Grandma says when complimented, "Honey, I'm not wearing this hat. This hat is wearing me!" Clara B. desperately wants to wear the hat, but the answer is always no. On this Mother's Sunday, she has had enough and is determined that the hat will wear her, too! Turner-Denstaedt's text describes Clara B.'s methodical progress, detailed scenes and descriptions drawing readers into the story. Morrison's illustrations superbly complement the words, sequential panels drawing out Clara B.'s boredom as she waits for her opportunity, full-bleed spreads skillfully varying perspective and composition to tell the story, fine-tuned pacing leading up to the inevitable moment when Clara B. crushes Grandma's hat. Readers will see and feel Clara's horror in this gasp-inducing moment. Sadly, the author passed away in 2007, leaving this vibrant work for readers in the here and now. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
KEENA FORD AND THE SECOND-GRADE MIX-UP by Melissa Thomson
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2008

Diarist Keena Ford is ambivalent about second grade: Girls and boys are placed in separate classes, so she will not be with her best friend, Eric. But she resolves to do her best and when Ms. Coleman turns up on the first day of school in a "COOL BELT WITH SPARKLES," she decides things are looking up. When she mixes up her dates and leads her teacher to believe that the next day is her birthday, greed for chocolate cake overcomes honesty, plunging her into ever-deeper hot water. Morrison's amiable illustrations clearly depict Keena as a lively African-American girl, but there is little in the text to lend her any ethnic or cultural specificity. The result is that she seems to be just another sassy, impulsive chapter-book heroine à la Clementine or Moxy Maxwell. Still, her escapades and the way she handles them ring with an emotional honesty readers will recognize: If she continues to develop, she has the potential to become a genuine character in her own right. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
OUT OF THE BALLPARK by Alex Rodriguez
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 6, 2007

Another celebrity offering, but not nearly so bad as it might be. The New York Yankees' A-Rod tells a fictionalized story of a boy named Alex whose team, the Caribes, reaches the playoffs despite the fact that "the harder he tried, the worse he played." But he gets his friend J.D. up at 5 am to practice before school and plays catch against the bedroom wall—500 times, and if he misses, he starts over. With his family in the stands, Alex wins the next big game for the Caribes, owing it all to practice and teamwork. A note from Rodriguez and photos of the real J.D. and A-Rod's family, along with the standard exhortations, close it out. Morrison's rubbery, exaggerated figures with their vintage, old-fashioned picture book colors are a pleasure to look at and will engage youngsters who might chafe a bit when the story turns too preachy. Adult readers will find the insight into A-Rod's complex character rather more engaging. (author's note, photographs) (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
QUEEN OF THE SCENE by Queen Latifah
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

A little girl demonstrates her confidence and her mad skills on the playground. The little girl, in a jumper over jeans and big bright tennis shoes, twirls a basketball on one finger while working her hula hoop, and excels at stickball, tennis, making sand castles and every other imaginable playground activity. The other kids look on in amazement or compete against her unsuccessfully as she dashes from sport to sport, rapping about her skill and showing off. Morrison's illustrations burst with originality, vibrancy and humor. Latifah's ode to self-esteem benefits greatly from the companion CD, but the minimal text, with a dashed-off feel and sometimes awkward rhymes, will probably leave the reader wanting more. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
MY FEET ARE LAUGHING by Lissette Norman
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 7, 2006

Sadie is a young Dominican-American who lives in Harlem with her mom and sister in her grandma's house. She's eight years old and full of spirit; Norman's poetry brings her vividly to life. In 16 poems, she chats about her feelings toward her dad and mom's separation ("Mami and Pop Are Good Friends"), her grandma ("Heaven is Where Grandma Lives") and her six-year-old sister ("My Feet Are Laughing"). The free verse typifies her age, as in, "Love is Crystal telling / Rolando from down the street / that she likes his blue-and-orange jersey / and Rolando wearing it almost every day." Each poem is accompanied by a double-page spread of illustrations as energetic as Sadie. Long curving lines exaggerate space and make the interiors cozy, as do the mellow and delicious shades of chocolate, purple and yellow. Sure to make readers' feet laugh. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)Read full book review >
GEORGE CRUM AND THE SARATOGA CHIP by Gaylia Taylor
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2006

Spinning lively invented details around skimpy historical records, Taylor profiles the 19th-century chef credited with inventing the potato chip. Crum, thought to be of mixed Native-American and African-American ancestry, was a lover of the outdoors, who turned cooking skills learned from a French hunter into a kitchen job at an upscale resort in New York state. As the story goes, he fried up the first batch of chips in a fit of pique after a diner complained that his French fries were cut too thickly. Morrison's schoolroom, kitchen and restaurant scenes seem a little more integrated than would have been likely in the 1850s, but his sinuous figures slide through them with exaggerated elegance, adding a theatrical energy as delicious as the snack food they celebrate. The author leaves Crum presiding over a restaurant (also integrated) of his own, closes with a note separating fact from fiction and also lists her sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
JAZZY MIZ MOZETTA by Brenda C. Roberts
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2004

Jazzy Miz Mozetta, a bespectacled African-American woman, sees the fat yellow moon and is inspired to "Skiddle de wee bop she bop . . . yeah!" She dons her favorite dress and "pizzazzy" hat and struts downstairs, all aglow. A crazy beat from the hip-hopping kids across the street thumps away and she wants to dance, too, but when her achy old checkers-playing friends won't join her and she can't duplicate the youngsters' splits and shimmies, she forlornly heads back upstairs. Anyone who's ever felt all dressed up with nowhere to go will understand Miz Mozetta's excitement and subsequent deflation. Fortunately, the night is saved and the tables are turned when friends pop in for some old-style jitterbugging—and even the street hipsters join the fun. Morrison captures the exuberant spirit of Miz Mozetta with a colorful jumble of exaggeratedly long, skinny limbs in dynamic illustrations that dance to the beat of a fresh, rhythmic story. Duke Ellington is right—"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"—and this vivacious offering definitely does. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
SWEET MUSIC IN HARLEM by Debbie A. Taylor
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2004

When "Chick blows his trumpet the wallpaper curls," but he is some kind of forgetful. Nephew and aspiring clarinetist C.J. takes it upon himself to track down his uncle's errant hat in time for his appointment with the photographer from Highnote magazine, and as he stops in at Chick's hangouts, the news about the photographer spreads. C.J. arrives home downcast and without the hat, but trailing in his wake are a crowd "of the greatest musicians and singers in Harlem. It was like seeing the sun, the moon, and the stars all shining at once." While they are inspired by the great Art Kane photograph, Harlem 1958, picture-book newcomers Taylor and Morrison do not seek to tell its story; rather, they riff on the possibilities, turning the focus from the already-famous to the child who hopes to be someday. The text adopts a jazzy inflection, with dialogue that's hipper than hip, but it's the illustrations that really zing. Bright acrylics abandon realism to emphasize rhythm, elongated forms moving sinuously against backgrounds that curve, slant, and boogie-woogie—but almost never stay still. Nearly pitch-perfect. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >