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

MOVING FORWARD

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

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. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more