An important window into the ravages of colonialism and the plight of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.

CHILD OF THE FLOWER-SONG PEOPLE

LUZ JIMÉNEZ, DAUGHTER OF THE NAHUA

Luz Jiménez lives with her family in a Mexican village.

They do not speak the language of their Spanish conquerors among themselves. Nahuatl is what they, the descendants of the powerful Aztecs, speak instead. Luz learns how to weave, to make tortillas, and to find medicinal herbs, but she also wants to learn how to read. When the Mexican government decides to “modernize” the Indigenous peoples, Native children are forced to adapt to the European style of dress and to forget their culture and languages. However, Luz does not forget. After her father is killed in a massacre by revolutionary soldiers, her mother flees with her and her sisters to Mexico City, where she comes to the attention of artists, photographers, and anthropologists. Finally, Luz’s culture and language are being recognized and appreciated. College students and anthropologists learn and record them before they disappear forever, and Luz is proud to have helped save the flower-song of her people. Amescua succeeds in introducing Luz, who became the embodiment of the “soul of Mexico.” The author’s note serves to fill in any informational gaps. Tonatiuh’s signature artwork once again nearly tells the story by itself. Closely following the text, the illustrations bring Luz to life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An important window into the ravages of colonialism and the plight of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico. (timeline, glossary, notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4020-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity.

HEAD TO HEAD

18 LINKED PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Renowned achievers go nose-to-nose on fold-out pages.

Mixing contemporary celebrities with historical figures, Corbineau pairs off his gallery of full-page portraits by theme, the images all reworked from photos or prints into cut-paper collages with highly saturated hues. Gandhi and Rosa Parks exemplify nonviolent protest; Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie are (mostly) commended for their work with impoverished people; and a “common point” between Gutenberg and Mark Zuckerberg is that both revolutionized the ways we communicate. The portraits, on opposite ends of gatefolds, open to reveal short biographies flanking explanatory essays. Women and people of color are distinctly underrepresented. There are a few surprises, such as guillotined French playwright Olympe de Gouges, linked for her feminism with actress Emma Watson; extreme free-fall jumper Felix Baumgartner, paired with fellow aerialist record-seeker Amelia Earhart; and Nelson Mandela’s co–freedom fighter Jean Moulin, a leader of the French Resistance. In another departure from the usual run of inspirational panegyrics, Cornabas slips in the occasional provocative claim, noting that many countries considered Mandela’s African National Congress a terrorist organization and that Mother Teresa, believing that suffering was “a gift from God,” rarely gave her patients painkillers. Although perhaps only some of these subjects “changed the world” in any significant sense, all come off as admirable—for their ambition, strength of character, and drive.

Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity. (map, timeline) (Collective biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6226-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Inspirational but occasionally unclear.

JUST LIKE ME

Gooding's debut profiles 40 famous people with disabilities.

The author, a mother of children with disabilities, opens the book with a note about her desire to find role models for her children. To that end, she alphabetically introduces racially diverse disabled people from around the world and throughout history. Diagnoses range from autism to limb difference. Historical figures include Japanese peace advocate Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima, and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who led fellow slaves to freedom despite epilepsy. Contemporary figures include athletes, authors, and entertainers: Polio survivor and Paralympian Malathi Krishnamurthy-Holla remains "one of the fastest female Indian athletes in a wheelchair"; Japanese nonverbal author Naoki Higashida penned popular books describing autism; English actor Daniel Radcliffe deals with dyspraxia, a coordination disorder; and Australian Madeline Stuart is the first professional model with Down syndrome. Each profile begins with an uplifting quote and concludes with a sidebar explaining the subject’s disability. Unfortunately, some sidebars emphasize colloquial over scientific terms. For instance, Stephen Hawking’s disability is named eponymously (Lou Gehrig's disease), “also known as ALS,” instead of with its scientific name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Occasionally, vague phrasing creates confusion, such as when the author writes that a speech-generating device enabled Hawking to communicate by using a “touchpad.” (A hand clicker became his primary input method.) Various illustrators’ realistic renditions of smiling subjects complement the upbeat (albeit somewhat dry) text.

Inspirational but occasionally unclear. (glossary, quote sources) (Collective biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78741-848-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Bonnier/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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