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From the She Persisted series

Pinkney and Flint have created a standout series opener.

A loving tribute to Harriet Tubman kicks off a chapter-book series spinoff of the She Persisted books created by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger.

There are many books written about the incredible historical figure that is Harriet Tubman. This chapter-book biography humanizes “Minty” and brings her to life in ways many other texts for children do not. With language that reflects contemporary usage (enslaved people rather than slaves in most cases) and makes clear the brutality of the period, Pinkney introduces young readers to intimate details of Tubman’s life, referring to her subject as Minty during her youth and Harriet after her marriage. Readers will meet Minty’s loving parents, Old Rit and Old Ben, wince at the cruelty of the Brodess family and other people who trafficked enslaved people, and cheer for Harriet as she navigates the complexities and intersectionality of surviving as a Black woman in the pre-emancipation United States. Pinkney’s powerful prose details Tubman’s work on the Underground Railroad and, later, as a Union spy—and her fruitless advocacy for a pension afterward. Flint’s grayscale artwork, done to emulate Boiger’s style, gracefully accompanies the writing, creating a mood that explores the gravity of Tubman’s life and deeds while still making her approachable. This is the first of 13 books, to be published one per month, that will bring the stories of monumental women to the forefront.

Pinkney and Flint have created a standout series opener. (activity guide, further reading, websites) (Biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11565-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures.

Abraham Lincoln’s ascent to the presidency is recounted in a fluid, easy-to-read biography for early readers.

Simple, direct sentences stress Lincoln’s humble upbringing, his honesty, and his devotion to acting with moral conviction. “Lincoln didn’t seem like a man who would be president one day. But he studied hard and became a lawyer. He cared about people and about justice.” Slavery and Lincoln’s signature achievement of emancipation are explained in broad yet defined, understandable analogies. “At that time, in the South, the law let white people own black people, just as they owned a house or a horse.” Readers are clearly given the president’s perspective through some documented memorable quotes from his own letters. “Lincoln did not like slavery. ‘If slavery is not wrong,’ he wrote to a friend ‘nothing is wrong.’ ” (The text does not clarify that this letter was written in 1865 and not before he ascended to the presidency, as implied by the book.) As the war goes on and Lincoln makes his decision to free the slaves in the “Southern states”—“a bold move”—Lincoln’s own words describe his thinking: “ ‘If my name ever goes into history,’ Lincoln said, ‘it will be for this act.’ ” A very basic timeline, which mentions the assassination unaddressed in the text, is followed by backmatter providing photographs, slightly more detailed historical information, and legacy. It’s a pity that the text is accompanied by unremarkable, rudimentary opaque paintings.

A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243256-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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