An important, underheard voice.

THE JOURNEY OF YORK

THE UNSUNG HERO OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION

York was the only man who set out with Lewis and Clark on their journey of exploration who did not volunteer. As William Clark’s enslaved manservant and the only nonwhite member, he didn’t have the choice.

In a series of brief, dated snapshots, York narrates the story of the expedition from his embarkation from Louisville in 1803 to the eve of their departure from the Oregon coast in 1806. In between, he covers incidents both oft-told (Sacagawea’s joining the party at Fort Mandan; the geographical challenges met) and rarely heard (Clark’s use of York to impress Native peoples; York’s inclusion in the vote on the decision to site their final winter camp). Davis imagines York’s feelings as he navigates his role as both enslaved African-American man and almost-full member of the expedition, narrating in a stiff voice that emulates 19th-century prose and also captures the stress of life as a second-class citizen: “After that vote…I worked as hard as any three men. Capt. Clark said that I ‘pushed my body to exhaustion.’ I just wanted to show the others how much I deserved that vote.” Harris’ illustrations also evoke the flat, primitive style of much 19th-century painting. Compositions frequently place York at the margins or in the shadows, underscoring the fact that he was not a full member of the party. A closing author’s note contextualizes and complicates his legacy.

An important, underheard voice. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5435-1282-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A worthy introduction to this master artist.

MORNINGS WITH MONET

Claude Monet spends an early morning in his “studio boat,” painting scenes of the Seine.

Rosenstock and GrandPré, who’ve amply demonstrated their ability to distill an artist’s work into a rich essence for young readers with biographies of Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and Chagall, now describe an imagined morning in the life of Monet, a founding impressionist. Here, the painter, now rich and famous, sets off to work at 3:30 a.m. In her respectful narrative, the writer’s word choice is precise and revealing. Monet “clambers aboard” his boat and counts his canvases in French: “un, deux, trois, quatre.” Rosenstock describes his working process, “painting the river’s colors, and the air around the colors,” and she weaves in some historical background. GrandPré’s illustrations, painted with acrylics, support and enhance the text. Readers see an older White man with a lush white beard and the “broad belly” and “sturdy legs” of the text. Toward the end, one particularly appealing spread shows Monet’s tools—the canvas, the palette, the brushes—and the artist, satisfied with his morning’s work. The colors are astonishing: from the bright aquamarine of the cover, the faintly violet dawn, the pinks, yellows, and oranges of the sunlight, and the tea-colored interiors. Always, there are brush strokes of other colors visible. An informative author’s note extends the artist’s biography, but the picture of his life painted in this single encounter is sufficient. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 63% of actual size.)

A worthy introduction to this master artist. (sources, acknowledgments) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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