An inspiring though incomplete look at a critical historical moment.

THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE

HOW ONE WOMAN'S WORDS MADE HISTORY

Sometimes the decision of an individual can make all the difference.

Febb Burns knew what she wanted, and what she wanted was the right to vote. A college-educated white woman, she yearned to do what her white male neighbors in East Tennessee did every election day. But while she did not have that right, her son, Harry, did—not just as a citizen, but as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The last to vote on ratification of the 19th Amendment, the body was closely divided between “yea” and “nay.” Even though Harry wore a red rose signifying opposition, he also carried with him a letter from his mother urging him to support the amendment. Listening to his mother and his conscience, vote “yea” he did, knowingly risking his seat. Boxer tells the story succinctly, clearly drawing the political lines so that young readers will understand the dynamics. Mildenberger’s inclusion of a few black women among those demonstrating for the vote reflects the historical reality that black women were part of the suffrage movement, but it also implies greater equality than truly existed, compounding Boxer’s elision of the fact that Jim Crow laws denied African Americans, both male and female, the vote. Irritatingly, though an illustration includes part of what is presumably Febb’s letter, that those were her words is never confirmed.

An inspiring though incomplete look at a critical historical moment. (author’s note, timeline) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-53411-049-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

ROSA PARKS

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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