An incredible story that ought to be widely known—a must-read. (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

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HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS

Minter’s acrylic-painted linoleum-block prints combine with Bowman’s story of a former slave who trained a brilliant horse for a memorable book.

Born circa 1833 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, William “Doc” Key earned his nickname by developing expertise in caring for horses. He had helped many horses give birth, but when his purebred Arabian, Lauretta, gives birth to a weak, “spindly, shank-legged” colt, Doc despairs of ever raising a prizewinning racehorse. Raising Beautiful Jim Key with the attention a doting parent gives a child, Doc soon realizes that he has no ordinary horse. Over time, Doc teaches Jim to answer questions, spell words, and write letters on a blackboard. Doc makes a living from selling his liniments on a medicine wagon, but when Jim performs in the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, held in Nashville in 1897, it catapults both of them to fame, which Key uses to promote animal welfare. Surrounding this amazing and mostly true story is the American segregation that prevented Doc and Jim from performing in certain places and for certain audiences. The strong, black lines of Minter’s prints give the book an old-time–y feel; colored in a palette of gold, brown, and green, they glow with life. Photographs of Doc and Jim in the backmatter along with useful historical information on the pair will give readers valuable background and context.

An incredible story that ought to be widely known—a must-read. (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62014-148-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • Newbery Honor Book

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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