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THE STORY OF SOJOURNER TRUTH

A BIOGRAPHY BOOK FOR NEW READERS

Clear and systematic, though the narrative flows more easily in later chapters.

An account of the life and achievements of a woman born into slavery who, guided by her faith, became a renowned crusader for human rights.

Clark opens by characterizing her subject as an evangelist. In tracing her long career, the author prominently folds mentions of Truth’s preaching and religious visions into the tally of her accomplishments—including the successful lawsuit she brought against a white slaveholder to reclaim her son, the ringing “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech she delivered to the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851, and her integration of Washington, D.C.’s, trolley system after the Civil War, prefiguring Rosa Parks’ later efforts. The biographical material, particularly in earlier chapters, might be too detailed for younger audiences to follow easily, but sidebars that invite readers to respond personally to significant incidents or character traits will help hold readers’ interest when the flurries of names and places become bewildering; to spark further engagement, a quiz and a set of discussion questions follow the pithy closing analysis of Sojourner’s legacy. If she doesn’t look quite as indomitable in the illustrations as she does in contemporary photographs, her bespectacled figure still stands properly tall and straight, whether speaking to courts and crowds or face to face with presidents (she met three).

Clear and systematic, though the narrative flows more easily in later chapters. (glossary, bibliography) (Biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Callisto Kids

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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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

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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

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