Woody Guthrie was arguably the greatest of American folk singers. Born in poverty and living most of his troubled life poor, he wrote over a thousand songs chronicling his journeys across Depression-era America. He wrote about the people he knew—the fellow wanderers, the migrant workers, hoboes, unionists, and the dispossessed in all walks of life. Always restless, rootless, and volatile, Guthrie never was able to settle down and make a marriage work, frequently leaving on unannounced trips across the country for weeks on end. Often dirty, smelly, and contentious, Guthrie was a hard friend. Yet his place in American music is secure, and this fascinating, new biography will introduce him to a new generation of readers. Beautifully designed and illustrated with over 70 black-and-white photographs, this well-written account is a fitting tribute to an American legend. Partridge, whose earlier work on Dorothea Lange (Restless Spirit, 1998) was equally powerful, portrays many of the rough and tragic sides of Guthrie’s life: the failed marriages, the “curse of fire,” the lack of responsibility in his personal life, and the tragedy of his final years, when he was hospitalized from 1954 until his death from Huntington’s disease in 1967. She also portrays the triumphs of his music career and offers the stories behind many of his most famous songs. Guthrie’s life spanned the Great Depression, WWII, the McCarthy era, and the early civil-rights movement. His work breathed new life into the folk-music movement, though the rise of folk music coincided with the decline in his health. At the end of this story, readers see 19-year-old Bob Dylan arriving to meet Woody and being inspired to carry on his work. Young readers will also be inspired—to see how Woody Guthrie achieved greatness, though the road he traveled was hard and troubled. A nice one-two punch with Bonnie Christensen’s recent picture book, Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People (2001). (author’s note, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-03535-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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This deeply personal and boldly political offering inspires and ignites.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Curator, author, and activist Drew shares her journey as an artist and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Drew uses her own story to show how deeply intertwined activism and the arts can be. Her choices in college were largely overshadowed by financial need, but a paid summer internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem became a formative experience that led her to major in art history. The black artists who got her interested in the field were conspicuously absent in the college curriculum, however, as was faculty support, so she turned her frustration into action by starting her own blog to boost the work of black artists. After college, Drew’s work in several arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, only deepened her commitment to making the art world more accessible to people of color and other marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities, and widening the scope of who is welcomed there. Drew narrates deeply personal experiences of frustration, triumph, progress, learning, and sometimes-uncomfortable growth in a conversational tone that draws readers in, showing how her specific lens enabled her to accomplish the work she has done but ultimately inviting readers to add their own contributions, however small, to both art and protest.

This deeply personal and boldly political offering inspires and ignites. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09518-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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