Decidedly and deliberately didactic, the book aims to spark action on the part of listeners, making it a title best shared...

BE THE CHANGE

A GRANDFATHER GANDHI STORY

The creators of Grandfather Gandhi (2014) return with a lesson about the complex foundations of violence in our world.

Life for young Arun in the ashram, or "service village," includes many chores. All work for the good of the group, doing basic tasks such as growing food or spinning thread. While these endeavors clearly affect comfort and survival, the benefits of some of the expectations held by his grandfather Mohandas K. Gandhi are less tangible. Arun Gandhi speaks directly to readers, explaining that he struggled particularly with the idea that waste and violence were linked. Through conversation and the creation of a visual aid, his Bapuji helps him to conceptualize the connection and to see that all actions are interrelated. Gandhi and Hegedus' relatively lengthy text is alternately direct and lyrical. Abstract concepts, sophisticated vocabulary, and philosophical explanations may slow some readers down, though unfamiliar words can generally be understood in context. Turk's striking mixed-media illustrations feature vivid colors and varying textures and include decorative stitching that evokes Indian textiles. Exaggerated, stylized shapes and intriguing perspectives complement the complexity of the ideas being explored and illuminate the subdued action of the text.

Decidedly and deliberately didactic, the book aims to spark action on the part of listeners, making it a title best shared by adults who are interested in the topic and motivated to continue the conversation. (authors’ note) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4265-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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