Visually charming, enjoyable, and educational

FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN

BASED ON THE HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN PIONEER SETTLEMENT

A little girl and her family join the Kansas land rush.

The cover welcomes readers into this story about Dede Patton and her family. Both of Dede’s parents work extra jobs, and Dede shines shoes at the train station, all in hopes of paying off their sharecropping debt so they can move west. But no matter how much they work, they don’t make enough (context on the sharecropping economy is provided in a note). An act of providence changes their fortunes when honest Dede returns a customer’s wallet and receives a monetary reward. Though not remarked upon, the fact that without this windfall the Pattons might never have realized their dream is chilling. The lovely, warm watercolor illustrations highlight the beauty of the prairie, particularly the wide expanse of grass and sky. In Kansas, the Pattons stake their land claim, but winter is harsh. Thankfully, when food and fuel run low, Ni-u-kon-ska (Osage) neighbors lend aid. Eventually more people arrive, African-American like the Pattons; their settlement becomes a town, and the Pattons’ dream of holding the deed for their land is realized. The closing note acknowledges the displacement of the Ni-u-kon-ska people—another opportunity for exploration. That the many all-black settlements on the prairie have been whitewashed out of U.S. history makes this book an important one.

Visually charming, enjoyable, and educational . (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2535-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space.

CAVE PAINTINGS

A trip to grandmother’s launches light-years beyond the routine sort, as a human child travels from deep space to Earth.

The light-skinned, redheaded narrator journeys alone as flight attendants supply snacks to diverse, interspecies passengers. The kid muses, “Sometimes they ask me, ‘Why are you always going to the farthest planet?’ ”The response comes after the traveler hurtles through the solar system, lands, and levitates up to the platform where a welcoming grandmother waits: “Because it’s worth it / to cross one universe / to explore another.” Indeed, child and grandmother enter an egg-shaped, clear-domed orb and fly over a teeming savanna and a towering waterfall before disembarking, donning headlamps, and entering a cave. Inside, the pair marvel at a human handprint and ancient paintings of animals including horses, bison, and horned rhinoceroses. Yockteng’s skilled, vigorously shaded pictures suggest references to images found in Lascaux and Chauvet Cave in France. As the holiday winds down, grandmother gives the protagonist some colored pencils that had belonged to grandfather generations back. (She appears to chuckle over a nude portrait of her younger self.) The pencils “were good for making marks on paper. She gave me that too.” The child draws during the return trip, documenting the visit and sights along the journey home. “Because what I could see was infinity.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-172-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A quiet and informative picture of belated emancipation.

JUNETEENTH FOR MAZIE

A father shares an important holiday with his daughter.

Mazie is unhappy because it is bedtime, and she would much rather stay up. She snuggles up to her father, who tells about a big celebration that will occur tomorrow—“on a day we call Juneteenth.” It begins with “Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose,” who is a slave in the cotton fields until June 19, 1865, when freedom is finally proclaimed in Galveston, Texas. Dancing and celebrating in the streets greet the news. Equality does not necessarily follow, but the day is always remembered. Protests, education and forgiveness, continues the father in his narration, are part of the story, which culminates with the inauguration of Barack Obama. He promises Mazie a day of good food, fun and remembrance. Cooper’s story is straightforward and aimed at an early-elementary audience, but it provides sufficient information to use with older children as an introduction to Juneteenth, which is marking its 150th anniversary in 2015. His full-page artwork—oil paintings in softly textured yellows and browns—captures the tender relationship between a father and daughter and the sadness and pride of their family story. Broad sweeps of history are encapsulated in double-page spreads focusing on determined, prayerful and happy faces.

A quiet and informative picture of belated emancipation. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-170-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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