This introduction to an American icon feels just right.

JUMP AT THE SUN

THE TRUE LIFE TALE OF UNSTOPPABLE STORYCATCHER ZORA NEALE HURSTON

From her girlhood days to her legacy as a writer for the ages, Zora Neale Hurston is introduced to young readers.

“In a town called Eatonville—where the magnolias smelled even prettier than they looked…lived a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitoes to skin.” Zora, clad in overalls and running through fields, loves being sent to Joe Clarke’s store, where she turns every quick errand into a chance to listen to the stories being told on the store’s porch. When she tells her own tales, her father and her grandmother punish her for “tellin’ lies,” but her mother values her stories and encourages her to “jump at [the] sun.” She wants more for her children than working the land. Sadly, her mother dies, but Zora remembers her encouragement throughout her life, which she spends in and out of different schools in different cities before finding her place in New York City as a writer and folklorist, a career that takes her back to her all-Black hometown to record those front-porch stories. Zora is depicted as the fun-loving, strong-willed person she most certainly was, and the text uses dialect as playfully as Zora did to transport readers into her world. Whimsical illustrations show Zora’s many worlds—country and city, school and social life—with energy and joy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.6% of actual size.)

This introduction to an American icon feels just right. (author’s note, additional reading, sources) (Picture book/biography. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1913-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A resplendent masterpiece.

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DREAMERS

Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.

This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”

A resplendent masterpiece. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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