GANDHI

Demi (The Emperor’s New Clothes, 2000, etc.) emphasizes the self-transforming powers that enabled Gandhi to change from frightened child to English gentleman to tongue-tied lawyer to ultimate servant of mankind with unshakable faith in the force of nonviolence and love. Perhaps because this is an overview, Demi gets the chronology of events right, but is less successful at bringing to life the man who’s widely regarded as one of the most influential of the 20th century and translating his philosophy into a compelling story. There are big themes to tackle: civil rights, the caste system, Satyagraha, Jainism, not to mention the socio-political milieu of turn-of-the century South Africa and colonial India. Though not without dramatic incident, this is of necessity, weighted with philosophy and brief definitions. And Gandhi, as one of the grand electrifying figures on the human stage, might have benefited from more expressive storytelling. In the delicate balancing act necessitated by presenting a “saint,” this veers perilously close to hagiography. Fortunately, the illustrations, though formal in presentation, present Gandhi more dramatically. Executed in Demi’s signature style, many are based on actual photographs. Some, like the Yeravada Jail, in which Gandhi began an important fast, would benefit from captions, and the action presented in others is not always made clear in the text. Lavish and rich in color, detail, and design, though, Demi’s style is both appropriate to the setting and particularly successful in depicting the diminutive Gandhi in his simple white garb symbolically isolated or in a throng. A note expands on Gandhi’s significance, but does little to document the authority of the work. Nevertheless, a heartfelt, handsome, and uplifting treatment for those who already have prior background and interest. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84149-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

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BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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