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

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Despite choruses praising Ride’s persistence, her life is inexplicably portrayed as lacking struggle.

SALLY RIDE

From the She Persisted series

Sally Ride: from tennis-playing schoolgirl through astronaut and educator to entrepreneur.

Sally Ride stars in this entry to the chapter-book series spun off from Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger’s picture book She Persisted (2017). Long before she becomes the first woman to go to space, Sally is an athlete, a White girl born in California in 1951. She’s a tennis whiz but an inconsistent scholar, attending a prestigious private school on an athletic scholarship. Though the narrative a little ostentatiously tells readers that “Sally persisted,” the youth presented here—a child who rolls her eyes at boring teachers, a college student who drops out to play tennis, an excellent tennis player who “just did not enjoy” the effort of becoming a professional—shows the opposite. Sexism is alluded to, but no barriers are portrayed as blocking young Sally herself. Though her amazing achievements aren’t downplayed, the groundbreaking Sally Ride, in this telling, becomes simply someone who applied for a job and excelled once she liked what she was doing. Sally’s partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, is mentioned as such, but the text avoids using any pronouns for O’Shaughnessy, which, along with her gender-neutral name, may leave many young readers ignorant that Ride silently broke sexuality barriers as well.

Despite choruses praising Ride’s persistence, her life is inexplicably portrayed as lacking struggle. (reading list, websites) (Biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11592-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A luminous thematic pairing.

THE FIRE OF STARS

THE LIFE AND BRILLIANCE OF THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED WHAT STARS ARE MADE OF

In parallel plotlines, two stars are born—one to flare in space and another sort on Earth to shed light on how.

In celestial deeps, illustrator Roy portrays dust and dirt gradually coalescing into a cloud that whirls ever more violently and at last ignites. Meanwhile, in side-by-side foreground scenes, a British child who thrills at the “lightning bolt of discovery” attendant on close observations of the natural world around her persistently chases that love through schools that discourage girls and women from such pursuits…all the way to the Harvard College Observatory. There she finds not only kindred female spirits, but also astronomical evidence leading to a blinding flash of insight about what stars are made of and in what proportions. Along with adding more detail about both the stellar career of Cecilia Payne, 25 years old when she made her revolutionary discovery in 1925, and about star formation in an afterword, Larson makes explicit her message to readers who burn to find out and to understand. “Cecilia proved not only what makes a star but also what makes a star scientist: curiosity, passion, hard work, and belief in oneself.” The swirling, whirling vortex cuts a dramatic figure in Roy’s glimmering starscapes; in the overset panels, Payne and her fellow students and associates, all White presenting, are drawn with sketchy grace in period dress and settings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A luminous thematic pairing. (timeline) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7287-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more