A stellar achievement for the whole year—not just its shortest month.



Three pivotal Supreme Court cases, one amendment, and 25 great men and women make for memorable entries.

Smith opens the 28 days of Black History Month with Crispus Attucks, who was a slave and a patriot in Colonial Boston, and concludes with Barack Obama, the 44th president. Moving chronologically, he presents names from the armed forces, medicine, sports, performing arts, exploration, business and civil rights activism. The entries vary from poetry to prose, dramatically making the point that each is individually an important person or decision, vital to our understanding of African-American history. Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe are represented in a poem for two voices. Harriet Tubman and Madame C.J. Walker are eulogized. Marian Anderson’s poem incorporates words from “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” Malcolm X is honored with an acrostic poem centered on “By any means necessary.” Nelson Mandela, the one international citizen, is accorded a chant. Brief paragraphs provide background notes. Day 29 is aimed at children, exhorting them to “add to history.” Evans’ digitally manipulated collage-and-oil artwork is brilliant, with bright colors and broad images that are powerful, poignant and heroic. Matthew Henson holds an American flag, Rosa Parks is in handcuffs, and the Little Rock Nine hold books while segregationists stand behind them with their fists raised.

A stellar achievement for the whole year—not just its shortest month. (author’s note, bibliography) (Informational picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-820-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.


Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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