From the It's Her Story series

A sweeping and inspiring young readers’ introduction to Ida B. Wells.

Readers meet the brave journalist and activist who wasn’t afraid to use her voice to fight for herself or others.

In this fictional graphic memoir, Williams chronicles Wells’ birth, childhood experiences, early adulthood in Memphis, and subsequent life in Chicago, allowing her subject to speak in the first person. In Memphis, Wells is forced from a train after refusing to leave the first-class seat that she paid for, three of her friends are lynched for owning a successful grocery store, and the office of her newspaper is bombed. After her departure from Memphis, Wells’ story focuses on her activism for both civil rights and women’s rights, forthrightly (if briefly) addressing resistance she met from White suffragists and Black leaders. Wells’ narration carries readers to her death in 1931. From there, her great-granddaughter (and author) Michelle Duster takes over the narrative. The switch in perspective is odd but not wholly confusing due to Harris’ clear stylings in the comics panels. The book lacks historical notes or bibliography, so engaged readers will need to seek more information about the subject on their own. The illustrations, while not particularly dynamic, use mostly warm, muted shades as they depict their subject against varying backdrops; they add much to the reading without detracting from the text. Series companion Dolly Parton, by Emily Skwish and illustrated by Lydia Fernández Abril, publishes simultaneously.

A sweeping and inspiring young readers’ introduction to Ida B. Wells. (Graphic biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5037-6008-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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