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

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Read this and be inspired to work for justice through the legal system.

Our Verdict

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

I DISSENT

RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK

Speak purposefully and carry a big legal pad.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 1940s Brooklyn neighborhood was filled with the traditional sights and aromas of many different immigrant cultures alongside her Jewish background, but in one respect her life was different. Her mother believed women should pursue opportunities outside the traditional ones. Ruth read voraciously in her neighborhood library, but it was on car trips with her family that she was exposed to racial and religious prejudices, effectively communicated with signage in the illustrations. Rebelling against writing with her right hand, the left-handed Ruth went on to earn a law degree—rare for women at that time—and teach law. She made it her mission to fight in the courts for equal rights for women and people of color. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court, the first Jewish woman to sit. In her many opinions, she “sings out for equality.” Levy’s breezy text highlights Ginsburg’s childhood, schooling, family (with a husband as the cook), and career. Baddeley’s mixed-media art is colorful, lively, and retro in feel. The judicious use of large and varied display types throughout the pages emphasizes Ginsburg’s thoughts and actions, often evoking picket signs of protest.

Read this and be inspired to work for justice through the legal system. (author’s note, photographs, notes on Supreme Court cases, bibliography, quotation sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6559-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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