MOVING FORWARD

FROM SPACE-AGE RIDES TO CIVIL RIGHTS SIT-INS WITH AIRMAN ALTON YATES

Readers will be inspired by one man’s guiding ethic: forward ever, backward never.

This solid, though somewhat didactic, biography rescues an influential civil rights activist from relative obscurity.

Growing up in the Jim Crow South, Alton Yates witnessed the indignities suffered by Black war veterans due to racism. Still, young Alton longed to join the Air Force and advance his education, so he enlisted in 1955. At Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, he met Paul Stapp, a White lieutenant colonel known as the “Fastest Human on Earth” because of record-breaking speed tests he’d endured. Dr. Stapp was conducting pioneering studies examining human tolerance to extreme acceleration and deceleration and was recruiting research volunteers. Alton stepped up immediately. For four years, he submitted himself to physically punishing experiments, risking his life in the name of scientific progress, until his father’s illness drew him away from military service. Upon returning home to Jacksonville, Florida, Alton, emboldened by the respect and dignity he had been afforded at Holloman, committed himself to the battle for racial justice. The story relates his involvement in Jacksonville’s NAACP Youth Council and the dangers he encountered while participating in civil rights protests en route to its soberly triumphal ending summarizing Yates’ legacy. The digitally rendered illustrations are historically accurate but somewhat unoriginal and depict White characters and Black characters of various skin tones. The backmatter, including the author’s photograph with Alton Yates, is informative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readers will be inspired by one man’s guiding ethic: forward ever, backward never. (timeline, author's note, illustrator's note, selected sources) (Picture book biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7365-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

I AM RUTH BADER GINSBURG

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case.

The distinguished jurist stands tall as a role model.

Not literally tall, of course—not only was she actually tiny but, as with all the other bobbleheaded caricatures in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, Ginsburg, sporting huge eyeglasses on an outsize head over black judicial robes even in childhood, remains a doll-like figure in all of Eliopoulos’ cartoon scenes. It’s in the frank acknowledgment of the sexism and antisemitism she resolutely overcame as she went from reading about “real female heroes” to becoming one—and also the clear statement of how she so brilliantly applied the principle of “tikkun olam” (“repairing the world”) in her career to the notion that women and men should have the same legal rights—that her stature comes clear. For all the brevity of his profile, Meltzer spares some attention for her private life, too (“This is Marty. He loved me, and he loved my brains. So I married him!”). Other judicial activists of the past and present, all identified and including the current crop of female Supreme Court justices, line up with a diversely hued and abled group of younger followers to pay tribute in final scenes. “Fight for the things you care about,” as a typically savvy final quote has it, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case. (timeline, photos, source list, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593533338

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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