FREEDOM SHIP

On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls and his crew of enslaved men took over the Confederate ship Planter and delivered it to the Union side, complete with cannons and ammunition. Smalls went on to participate in several naval battles during the Civil War and later served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since this is the story of the Planter on that one day, little historical context is provided until the author’s note, and readers will come away wishing there were more to it. The choice of first-person narration in the voice of a little boy, and the consequent inelegant and staccato prose, adds to the meagerness of the volume as a whole. The author’s note fills in some history, and a short but good bibliography and a list of web sites offer further sources for young readers. Overall, the volume is attractively designed, the illustrations stately but stiff. Readers will be better served by some of the works from the bibliography. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7868-0645-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event.

LET THE CHILDREN MARCH

A vibrantly illustrated account of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade through the eyes of a young girl who volunteers to participate.

Morrison’s signature style depicts each black child throughout the book as a distinct individual; on the endpapers, children hold signs that collectively create a “Civil Rights and the Children’s Crusade” timeline, placing the events of the book in the context of the greater movement. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. comes to speak at her church, a girl and her brother volunteer to march in their parents’ stead. The narrative succinctly explains why the Children’s Crusade was a necessary logistical move, one that children and parents made with careful consideration and despite fear. Lines of text (“Let the children march. / They will lead the way // The path may be long and / troubled, but I’m gonna walk on!”) are placed within the illustrations in bold swoops for emphasis. Morrison’s powerful use of perspective makes his beautiful oil paintings even more dynamic and conveys the intensity of the situations depicted, including the children’s being arrested, hosed, and jailed. The child crusaders, regardless of how badly they’re treated, never lose their dignity, which the art conveys flawlessly. While the children win the day, such details as the Confederate flag subtly connect the struggle to the current day.

A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event. (timeline, afterword, artist’s statement, quote sources, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-70452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space.

CAVE PAINTINGS

A trip to grandmother’s launches light-years beyond the routine sort, as a human child travels from deep space to Earth.

The light-skinned, redheaded narrator journeys alone as flight attendants supply snacks to diverse, interspecies passengers. The kid muses, “Sometimes they ask me, ‘Why are you always going to the farthest planet?’ ”The response comes after the traveler hurtles through the solar system, lands, and levitates up to the platform where a welcoming grandmother waits: “Because it’s worth it / to cross one universe / to explore another.” Indeed, child and grandmother enter an egg-shaped, clear-domed orb and fly over a teeming savanna and a towering waterfall before disembarking, donning headlamps, and entering a cave. Inside, the pair marvel at a human handprint and ancient paintings of animals including horses, bison, and horned rhinoceroses. Yockteng’s skilled, vigorously shaded pictures suggest references to images found in Lascaux and Chauvet Cave in France. As the holiday winds down, grandmother gives the protagonist some colored pencils that had belonged to grandfather generations back. (She appears to chuckle over a nude portrait of her younger self.) The pencils “were good for making marks on paper. She gave me that too.” The child draws during the return trip, documenting the visit and sights along the journey home. “Because what I could see was infinity.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-172-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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