Strong evidence that sometimes you really do just think you can.

YOU CAN!

WORDS OF WISDOM FROM THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD

A medley of aspirational sentiments and newly fashioned illustrations—both inspired by those of the classic tale.

The result is as ill wrought as it is ill conceived. Hart boils down the various versions of the original story’s major themes to a series of pithy formulations. These range from the mundane, “A positive attitude always helps when the going gets tough,” to such excruciatingly trite lines as “Remember that it’s always darkest before the dawn,” and “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel!” He then fills in the page count with assorted tangential apothegms: “Always run on time”; “Everyone needs a little downtime for maintenance” (followed later on by “It’s okay to take a break”); “Don’t forget that everyone travels on their own track.” Evidently not having seen the final text, Howarth follows up this last with a contradictory view on the next page of two engines on the same track (“Go at your own pace!”). An earlier sequence involving a fallen tree finds it placed in three different places in as many illustrations. In general she sticks to traditional portrayals of the anthropomorphic locomotives and the toys in her diminutive scenes but gives one of the two toy dolls brown skin.

Strong evidence that sometimes you really do just think you can. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8468-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history

SOLDIER FOR EQUALITY

JOSÉ DE LA LUZ SÁENZ AND THE GREAT WAR

In 1918, José de la Luz Sáenz left his teaching job and enlisted in the United States Army, where he joined thousands of other Mexican American soldiers.

“He wanted to demonstrate that Mexican Americans loved America and would give their lives fighting for it,” writes Tonatiuh. Luz felt that the white people of Texas would start treating Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) fairly after seeing their sacrifice. Once in France, Luz taught himself French and was assigned to the intelligence office to translate communications, but he was not given credit or promotions for this vital work. After the war, he and other Tejano veterans found prejudice against them unchanged. They organized and became civil rights leaders. In 1929, 10 years after the end of World War I, they formed the League of United Latin American Citizens. Together they fought against school segregation, racism, prejudice, and “for the ideals of democracy and justice.” The author’s insightful use of Sáenz’s war-diary entries boldly introduces this extraordinary American’s triumphs and struggles. In Tonatiuh’s now-trademark illustrations, Luz crouches with other stylized doughboys in French trenches as shells explode in no man’s land and mourns a fallen fellow Mexican in a French cemetery. Extensive backmatter includes an author’s note, war timeline, timeline of LULAC’s successful civil rights lawsuits, glossary, and bibliography.

An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history . (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3682-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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