UNSTOPPABLE

HOW JIM THORPE AND THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL DEFEATED THE ARMY

From the Encounter: Narrative Nonfiction Picture Books series

The story of a wounded child who found refuge in sports.

As a child growing up in Indian Territory, Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) was taken from his family to Haskell Institute, a boarding school where Native children were forced into a white assimilation education system. After running away from Haskell several times, Jim was sent at 16 to the Carlisle Industrial School, where his father hoped he would learn a trade. Coulson’s straightforward account informs readers that it was at Carlisle where Jim turned his talent for running to track, encouraged by coach Glenn “Pop” Warner. Though Jim was small for his age, he excelled in baseball, lacrosse, and hockey—and his ability to dodge bigger players landed him on Carlisle’s varsity football team. The twin highlights of his career were making it to the 1912 Olympics, where he won several gold medals, and leading Carlisle to defeat the champion Army team. Hardcastle’s fine-lined ink-and-watercolor illustrations project an appropriately bygone air, depicting Thorpe in motion more often than not. Though the book is a welcome celebration of this Native American sports hero, the text skates over the impacts of forced cultural assimilation and separation from his family on Jim. Coulson (Cherokee) does mention a more personal family history in the backmatter, as well as the stripping of Thorpe’s Olympic medals (and their posthumous restoration), but his failure to integrate it into the story keeps readers from appreciating Jim’s victories in their full scope.

Solid if incomplete. (glossary, further reading, notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5435-0406-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

MORE THAN PEACH

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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