Lyon has given today's readers a stirring story about yesterdays.

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

THE STORY OF A SONG

"Folk songs are alive," states Lyon in her author's note, and none is more so than "Which Side Are You On?"

The song, based on a hymn tune and lyrics, rose up from coal miners' strikes in Harlan County, Ky., in the 1930s. Narrated in the first person by a miner's son, this plainspoken account tells of the physical threat to the Reese family when their father is chased from town and the family comes under attack by Sheriff J.H. Blair's hired and armed thugs. Interspersed with the narration are the words of the song. Cardinale's digitally colored scratchboard art is dynamic and presents a visual reality that strengthens the history of the song and the people who sang it. The author's note adds a concise history of unions, laborers' demands for fair wages, safe conditions and an end of servitude to mine owners. Her explanation of the folk process is clear and shows how words and perceptions change over time. The book will be of great use in explaining U.S. labor history and development of workers' rights. Given that many of the same conditions exist today, only changed by mechanization, the music and lyrics included may well find use in the current generation.

Lyon has given today's readers a stirring story about yesterdays. (bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-933693-96-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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STANDING ON HER SHOULDERS

Clark-Robinson celebrates the ways in which women have opened doors for the girls and women coming after them.

Two women, one elderly and one younger, sit a girl down with tea and photographs to tell her stories of how “our mothers and all those who’ve gone before, / paved a freer path and opened a wider door.” The walls of this Black family’s home are covered in framed photographs of diverse historical and contemporary women who made their marks in the worlds of art, sports, politics, and more. As the women encourage the girl to “speak [the] names” of those who came before and recognize that they stand on the shoulders of those women, the art transitions from their home to full spreads showing the heroes in action. Toward the end, as the text repeats praise for the women leaders, the art shows the family framing a photograph of themselves and hanging it on the wall, placing them in the line of strong women as the question is posed to the girl: “Who will stand on YOURS?” Many of the icons in the images will be recognizable to informed readers, overlaying the text’s general message onto specific examples of excellence. Backmatter provides a sentence introducing each figure beneath her portrait, offering an opportunity for readers to “speak their names.” Though perhaps overly hopeful in its depiction of women’s unity across racial lines, this book achieves the effect of an intergenerational embrace. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

Uplifting. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35800-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Successful neither as biography nor sermon.

I AM ABRAHAM LINCOLN

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Our 16th president is presented as an activist for human and civil rights.

Lincoln resembles a doll with an oversized head as he strides through a first-person narrative that stretches the limits of credulity and usefulness. From childhood, Abe, bearded and sporting a stovepipe hat, loves to read, write and look out for animals. He stands up to bullies, noting that “the hardest fights don’t reveal a winner—but they do reveal character.” He sees slaves, and the sight haunts him. When the Civil War begins, he calls it a struggle to end slavery. Not accurate. The text further calls the Gettysburg ceremonies a “big event” designed to “reenergize” Union supporters and states that the Emancipation Proclamation “freed all those people.” Not accurate. The account concludes with a homily to “speak louder then you’ve ever spoken before,” as Lincoln holds the Proclamation in his hands. Eliopoulos’ comic-style digital art uses speech bubbles for conversational asides. A double-page spread depicts Lincoln, Confederate soldiers, Union soldiers, white folk and African-American folk walking arm in arm: an anachronistic reference to civil rights–era protest marches? An unsourced quotation from Lincoln may not actually be Lincoln’s words.

Successful neither as biography nor sermon. (photographs, archival illustration) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4083-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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