Lots of heart.

READ REVIEW

LOVE IS POWERFUL

A child prepares for the Women’s March.

City-dwelling Mari is excited to march (a plethora of pussyhats indicates it’s the Women’s March). Crayons ready, she asks her mother what they’re coloring. The reply: “A message for the world.” But how will the whole world hear their message? The answer: “because love is powerful.” This titular refrain is repeated throughout the story as the pair joins the march. Though Mari doesn’t think anyone will hear in the crowd of thousands, she shouts out the message on her poster: “Love is powerful!” Pham’s bright, cheery art shows hearts emanating from Mari and drifting into the multiracial crowd (especially helpful for younger readers to understand the concept of a far-reaching message). Other marchers take up Mari’s call until the hearts expand farther and farther out into the city. Though the signs they and others carry seem disconnected from some important social justice issues, particularly for a book focusing on a Black child (there are no obvious Black Lives Matter signs, for instance), this feel-good tale can serve as an accessible starting place or to augment such books as Shane Evans’ We March (2012) and other stories that delve deeper into the reasons why people march and protest. The prose is somewhat unpolished, but a note from and photograph of the real Mari at book’s end charmingly grounds it. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.4-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 27% of actual size.)

Lots of heart. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0199-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.

BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR

A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own.

In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy’s text describes what “Black is” physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as “the braids in my best friend’s hair,” to the conceptual: “Black is soft-singing, ‘Hush now, don’t explain’ ”—a reference to the song “Don’t Explain” made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, and “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-631-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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