Brings deserved attention to the life of a man who dedicated himself to recording the lives of others.

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WILLIAM STILL AND HIS FREEDOM STORIES

THE FATHER OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

William Still’s chance encounter with his long-lost brother changed the course of his life and those of many other African Americans striving for freedom.

When Sidney Still escaped slavery in Maryland to join her husband, Levin, in New Jersey with their two daughters, she left their two sons behind. There, the family grew until William was born in 1821, youngest of 15. Tate’s economical, urgent narrative lays out these facts before recounting how young William struggled to balance education with chores and Northern racism. At 26, he landed an office-clerk position at the Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia and eventually opened his home as a “station” along the Underground Railroad. Finally meeting his older brother Peter during the latter’s escape inspired Still to gather identifying information and stories of the runaways he assisted, work that was instrumental in reuniting families who had become separated and that became a chronicle of “slavery’s nightmare.” Tate’s sentences are often short, underscoring Still’s effort and drive; when they occasionally lengthen, they land with a punch: “With three dollars in his pocket, and a billion dollars in pride, William planted himself north of the Delaware River in east Philadelphia.” His paintings often likewise play out in vignettes that capture action over time then linger lovingly on the expressive faces of his characters.

Brings deserved attention to the life of a man who dedicated himself to recording the lives of others. (timeline, author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-56145-935-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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