Books by Gordon C. James

LET 'ER BUCK! by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Released: Feb. 5, 2019

"A champion indeed. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
Honing skills first learned from Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse friends in eastern Oregon, African-American cowboy George Fletcher bucked his way into legend at the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up. Read full book review >
CROWN by Derrick Barnes
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"One of the best reads for young black boys in years, it should be in every library, media center, and, yes, barbershop. (Picture book. 5-12)"
Safe to say, there's nothing like the feeling of the fresh cut. You feel so extra visible with a fresh new cut, and this book built from that experience translates it in a way never before brought to the children's bookshelf. Read full book review >
A SONG FOR HARLEM by Patricia C. McKissack
Released: Aug. 1, 2007

McKissack's third offering in her Scraps of Time historical fiction for new readers examines the life of fictional Lilly Belle Turner in 1928 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Told by Lilly Belle's niece, Gee, the grandmother with the attic full of historical family artifacts, McKissack's story closely follows the structure of the earlier entries. This time, 12-year-old Lilly Belle wins a writing contest, leaves her family in Smyrna, Tenn. and joins her Aunt Odessa in Harlem for a class with Zora Neale Hurston in the famed salon, the Dark Tower, run by A'Lelia Walker. One of the classmates plagiarizes a story from The Crisis magazine and Lilly Belle is faced with a crisis of her own. The story line is simply an excuse to namedrop the various historical highlights of the Harlem Renaissance: Countee Cullen, W.E.B. Du Bois, the Savoy, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Marcus Garvey. But for newcomers to the period, this will serve as a taste of this rich period in American history. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
CAMPY by David A. Adler
Released: March 1, 2007

Roy Campanella was a beloved catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. When they announced their plan to move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, he had every intention of going with them. But during the winter off-season, he was severely injured in a car crash. He never played baseball or walked again. Adler provides all the salient biographical information, including the little-known fact that Branch Rickey hired Jackie Robinson and Campanella as part of the same plan to integrate baseball. But the stress is on Campy's warm, loving spirit and his inspirational determination to live his life fully and without complaint. James's compelling oils present a beautifully lit, softly focused view of the events. The only caveat is that Campanella's facial features differ in nearly every illustration, and most don't resemble the real man. This might be somewhat jarring to adults who remember Campy, but probably won't affect young readers. There has been little written about Campanella in recent years, but Adler fills that void admirably. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)Read full book review >
AWAY WEST by Patricia C. McKissack
Released: March 1, 2006

It's 1879 and 13-year-old Everett Turner is stowing away on a supply boat to St. Louis. He has left his farmer brother Gus to work their exhausted land in Tennessee and is heading west to the new settlements in Kansas, hoping to find his way out of the fields of Pearl, Tenn. and into the cavalry with his older brother. Holding his dead father's Medal of Valor as a talisman, Everett joins the wave of pioneers with little more than the clothes he's wearing. Using his wits and his ability to read, Everett earns a spot with Benjamin Singleton's group and starts his new life in Kansas. Important and sometimes neglected historical details are here: Buffalo soldiers, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the slave-built Eads Bridge and the settlement of Nicodemus, Kan. In short, readable chapters, complete with cliffhanger endings, McKissack brings another slice of history to life for new readers. A must for young history buffs. (timeline) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
ABBY TAKES A STAND by Patricia C. McKissack
Released: May 1, 2005

Maggie Rae and her cousins visit their grandmother's attic to find scraps of time, remembrances from her family's past. A menu from a Nashville restaurant provides the link to 1960 with its lunch-counter sit-ins and store boycotts. Grandmother (Abby) was ten years old that year and very much a part of those events. She experienced the ugliness of segregation, attended meetings, passed out flyers, provided food for the participants and witnessed both defeats and victories. Abby is an engaging character whose sharp observations provide emotional connections and a sense of time and place. McKissack also carefully sets the stage by using the attic device, gently moving the reader from present to past and back again. By personalizing events, historical fiction can bring the past alive for children, whose concept of time is unformed. McKissack succeeds admirably. An excellent introduction to a promising new series. (Historical fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >