A lot of information is packed into this picture-book biography. Sojourner, originally named Isabella, was a Dutch-speaking child born into slavery. Details about her life in slavery, when she was purchased by an English-speaking master, her marriage to a man selected by her master, the birth and loss of her children, and the events leading up to her transformation to an advocate for freedom, are recounted with passion. Rockwell (Career Day, p. 720, etc.) adds an author’s note explaining her motivation for writing this biography and cites Sojourner’s autobiography as her most helpful source. Additional information includes data about the subject’s life beyond the events chronicled and a timeline. The book is written in serial style, with a cliffhanger phrase at the end of each page. Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Christie’s (The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children, 1996) primitive-style illustrations are striking. Oversized, mask-like heads, often fierce and foreboding, dominate many of the drawings. Earth-toned colors predominate in the stark depiction of Sojourner’s early life and the slave owners who mistreated her, but her strength shines through in all the illustrations. An excellent addition to the biography shelf as a compelling story of an extraordinary woman, as well as for its pertinence to school assignments. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-679-89186-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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She said, “Failure is impossible,” and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in...


Susan B. Anthony worked to win women the right to vote her whole long life, but she did not live to see it done.

Wallner uses her flat decorative style and rich matte colors to depict Susan B. Anthony’s life, layering on details: Susan catching snowflakes behind her parents’ house; working in her father’s mill (briefly) and then departing school when the money ran out; writing at her desk; speaking passionately in front of small groups and rowdy crowds. It’s a little too wordy and a little less than engaging in describing a life in which Anthony traveled alone, hired her own halls, spoke tirelessly about women’s suffrage, published, created forums where women could speak freely and was arrested for registering to vote. Her life-long friendship with suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton is touched on, as are the virulent attacks against her ideas and her person. She died in 1906. Votes for women did not come to pass in the United States until 1920.

She said, “Failure is impossible,” and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in this book. (timeline, bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1953-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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