Opens the door for further exploration of both man and music.

SONNY'S BRIDGE

JAZZ LEGEND SONNY ROLLINS FINDS HIS GROOVE

An appropriately jazzy picture-book biography of African-American musician Sonny Rollins.

It impresses from the endpapers, which mirror a vinyl LP in its paper sleeve and then playing on a turntable, to the liner notes about Rollins’ seminal album “The Bridge” in the back. Born and raised in Harlem, Rollins grew up at the perfect time for a jazz musician. Written in free verse that flirts with rhyme, the text moves through measures and beats like the up-and-down swings of jazz. The vibrant, digitally created illustrations set the mood as they go from deep blue and purple nighttime hues to bright daytime tones and back again. The birth of Rollins’ career is explored as he acquires and falls in love with his first horn and learns the nuances of jazz by sneaking into some of the greatest clubs in Harlem. By the time he’s 19 people have started to notice how great he truly is. He spends most of the 1950s playing two shows a day, every day. Ten years later he needs a sabbatical: “Sonny knows if he don’t jump, / He. Won’t. Last.” He practices on the Williamsburg Bridge, and the first album after his return is called “The Bridge.” Child readers may not have thought much about Rollins, but Wittenstein’s admiration for his subject establishes his importance. All the characters present as African-American.

Opens the door for further exploration of both man and music. (Picture book/biography. 3-9)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-881-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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

THURGOOD

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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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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