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

28 DAYS

MOMENTS IN BLACK HISTORY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A humorous tribute to the zany, determined and innovative side of invention.

PAPA'S MECHANICAL FISH

Young Virena, one of four children, provides inspiration for her aspiring inventor papa’s latest ambitious construction: a submarine.

Fleming bases her tale on the true story of Civil War–era inventor Lodner Phillips, who tried his hand at submarine design on the shores of Lake Michigan. In Fleming’s lively, enthusiastic account, Papa builds three increasingly large and more complicated underwater vehicles, each of which sinks, with Papa emerging cheerfully, if damply, ready for the next round. As Virena muses on the nature of marine life, providing Papa with ideas for improvements, the baby interjects disarmingly funny comments: “No pee pee!” chortles the baby when Virena asks how fish stay dry. The Whitefish IV has room for everyone, and Papa puts his entire family into the contraption—somehow the cheerful presentation keeps readers from worrying about the outcome. Kulikov’s expansive, comical illustrations offer exaggerated perspectives from above and below the deep blue-green water, huge and beautiful fish just under the surface and a loving family for the determined inventor. Blueprints for each version of the mechanical fish are included—a neat glimpse into the invention process—while the peculiarly human expressions on the family bulldog remind readers that this is a fantasy. An author’s note and an extensive list of adult resources give background information about the real Lodner Phillips.

A humorous tribute to the zany, determined and innovative side of invention. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-39908-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more