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)