A necessary testament to the power of children’s voices.



A girl with cerebral palsy fights for the 1990 passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Whether she’s horseback riding or starting kindergarten, Jennifer Keelan’s “ready to GO!” But all around her, places and people demand that she “STOP!” From her wheelchair, a 4-inch curb is a “cliff,” and she’s not allowed to join her classmates in the cafeteria. Everything changes when Jennifer—knowing that “children with disabilities get ignored too”—joins a diverse group of disability rights activists. When Jennifer is 8, activists propose the ADA to “make room for all people, including those with disabilities.” Dismissed by Congress, disabled activists crawl up the steps of the Capitol to be heard. When grown-ups say she’s too young to participate, Jennifer drags herself “ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP” on behalf of disabled kids everywhere. Ali’s soft-focus illustrations deftly convey Jennifer’s determined scowl and excited grin. Pimentel realistically acknowledges that the ADA hasn’t fixed everything—“Slowest of all, minds have to change”—but in her foreword, the adult Jennifer—now Keelan-Chaffins—notes that she keeps “using [her] voice to speak up” and encourages readers to do likewise. Backmatter further discusses disabilities, the disability rights movement, and the ADA. Front- and backmatter seem geared toward older readers, who may find the main text a tad too simple; those wanting more information should follow this up with Amy Hayes’ Disability Rights Movement (2017). Jennifer and her family present white; classmates’ and activists’ races vary.

A necessary testament to the power of children’s voices. (notes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8897-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.


The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.


The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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