JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

I AM RUTH BADER GINSBURG

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case.

The distinguished jurist stands tall as a role model.

Not literally tall, of course—not only was she actually tiny but, as with all the other bobbleheaded caricatures in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, Ginsburg, sporting huge eyeglasses on an outsize head over black judicial robes even in childhood, remains a doll-like figure in all of Eliopoulos’ cartoon scenes. It’s in the frank acknowledgment of the sexism and antisemitism she resolutely overcame as she went from reading about “real female heroes” to becoming one—and also the clear statement of how she so brilliantly applied the principle of “tikkun olam” (“repairing the world”) in her career to the notion that women and men should have the same legal rights—that her stature comes clear. For all the brevity of his profile, Meltzer spares some attention for her private life, too (“This is Marty. He loved me, and he loved my brains. So I married him!”). Other judicial activists of the past and present, all identified and including the current crop of female Supreme Court justices, line up with a diversely hued and abled group of younger followers to pay tribute in final scenes. “Fight for the things you care about,” as a typically savvy final quote has it, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case. (timeline, photos, source list, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593533338

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

BRAVE JANE AUSTEN

READER, WRITER, AUTHOR, REBEL

An appealing, lively portrait that may nonetheless fail to pique the interest of many in the intended audience.

This brief biography of Jane Austen describes her life and notes the hardships and expectations she overcame to become a published author.

Pliscou paints a vivid picture of the world Jane was born into, from the physical environment of home and village to the strictures on women’s accomplishments and experiences. The relatively lengthy text flows smoothly. It details the hardships that Jane and her family faced, from financial difficulties both before and after her father’s death to Jane’s survival of (and long, book-filled recuperation from) a serious illness, and emphasizes that despite these challenges Jane was dedicated to perfecting her craft. Corace’s illustrations, created using gouache, ink, acrylic, and pencil, have a stylized look and a relatively limited, somewhat subdued palette. They effectively evoke the historic period and include a nod to a popular decorative style of the day in an attractive double-page spread of silhouettes that conveys Jane’s determination as she “read, sewed, planned menus…went to parties, helped to take care of her parents, and…kept on writing her funny, thoughtful stories.” As Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng do in Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen (2018), Pliscou introduces a revered author for adults to an audience who has likely never heard of her; as recorded here, Austen’s quiet life doesn’t give children much to latch onto.

An appealing, lively portrait that may nonetheless fail to pique the interest of many in the intended audience. (author’s note, quotations, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-643-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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