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THE JOURNEY OF YORK

THE UNSUNG HERO OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION

An important, underheard voice.

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. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

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

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. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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