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

READ REVIEW

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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Pretty but substance-free—which is probably not how any of this book’s subjects would like to be remembered.

SHE PERSISTED

13 AMERICAN WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Inspired by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s stand against the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general—and titled for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s stifling of same—glancing introductions to 13 American women who “persisted.”

Among the figures relatively familiar to the audience are Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, and Ruby Bridges; among the more obscure are union organizer Clara Lemlich, physician Virginia Apgar, and Olympian Florence Griffith Joyner. Sonia Sotomayor and Oprah Winfrey are two readers may already have some consciousness of. The women have clearly been carefully selected to represent American diversity, although there are significant gaps—there are no Asian-American women, for instance—and the extreme brevity of the coverage leads to reductivism and erasure: Osage dancer Maria Tallchief is identified only as “Native American,” and lesbian Sally Ride’s sexual orientation is elided completely. Clinton’s prose is almost bloodless, running to such uninspiring lines as, about Margaret Chase Smith, “she persisted in championing women’s rights and more opportunities for women in the military, standing up for free speech and supporting space exploration.” Boiger does her best to compensate, creating airy watercolors full of movement for each double-page spread. Quotations are incorporated into illustrations—although the absence of dates and context leaves them unmoored. That’s the overall feeling readers will get, as the uniformity of presentation and near-total lack of detail makes this overview so broad as to be ineffectual. The failure to provide any sources for further information should the book manage to pique readers’ interests simply exacerbates the problem.

Pretty but substance-free—which is probably not how any of this book’s subjects would like to be remembered. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4172-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

ROSA PARKS

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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