“A symbol of hope in the darkest of times,” the Empire State Building was built in record time during the Great Depression. In their latest collaboration, Hopkinson and Ransome beautifully depict its construction in one year and 45 days, as seen through the watchful eyes of a young boy. The free-verse narrative and dynamic oil paintings are a superb one-two punch, nicely complemented by endpapers celebrating the photographs of Lewis Hine, who documented the construction of the Empire State Building from 1930 to 1931. Poetic lines are packed with information, and the palette ranges from blue-sky days to rich nighttime hues to beautiful bursts of oranges, yellows and blues. As in Mordicai Gerstein’s The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (2003), perspectives range from ground-level views to soaring vistas to dizzying looks down to earth from above. A beautiful work befitting its subject. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83610-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A white youth from Ohio, Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say), and a black youth from Georgia, Pinkus Aylee (Pink), meet as young soldiers with the Union army. Pink finds Say wounded in the leg after a battle and brings him home with him. Pink's mother, Moe Moe Bay, cares for the boys while Say recuperates, feeding and comforting them and banishing the war for a time. Whereas Pink is eager to go back and fight against "the sickness" that is slavery, Say is afraid to return to his unit. But when he sees Moe Moe Bay die at the hands of marauders, he understands the need to return. Pink and Say are captured by Confederate soldiers and brought to the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Say is released months later, ill and undernourished, but Pink is never released, and Polacco reports that he was hanged that very first day because he was black. Polacco (Babushka Baba Yaga, 1993, etc; My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, above) tells this story, which was passed down for generations in her family (Say was her great-great-grandfather), carefully and without melodrama so that it speaks for itself. The stunning illustrations — reminiscent of the German expressionist Egon Shiele in their use of color and form — are completely heartbreaking. A spectacular achievement. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22671-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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A quiet and informative picture of belated emancipation.


A father shares an important holiday with his daughter.

Mazie is unhappy because it is bedtime, and she would much rather stay up. She snuggles up to her father, who tells about a big celebration that will occur tomorrow—“on a day we call Juneteenth.” It begins with “Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose,” who is a slave in the cotton fields until June 19, 1865, when freedom is finally proclaimed in Galveston, Texas. Dancing and celebrating in the streets greet the news. Equality does not necessarily follow, but the day is always remembered. Protests, education and forgiveness, continues the father in his narration, are part of the story, which culminates with the inauguration of Barack Obama. He promises Mazie a day of good food, fun and remembrance. Cooper’s story is straightforward and aimed at an early-elementary audience, but it provides sufficient information to use with older children as an introduction to Juneteenth, which is marking its 150th anniversary in 2015. His full-page artwork—oil paintings in softly textured yellows and browns—captures the tender relationship between a father and daughter and the sadness and pride of their family story. Broad sweeps of history are encapsulated in double-page spreads focusing on determined, prayerful and happy faces.

A quiet and informative picture of belated emancipation. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-170-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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