PLB 0-688-10259-X Taking a big step up from its glamorous, superficial predecessor, African Beginnings (p. 111), this volume looks at the history of slavery in Europe and Africa, plus the growth and decline of the New World slave trade, with a narrative that is closely based on contemporary accounts and full-color and black-and-white illustrations from a variety of sources. After creating a historical background for the Age of Exploration, the authors explain how the slave trade came to dominate commerce with Africa, describe in harsh detail the treatment of captives before and during the infamous Middle Passage, take up the topic of slave mutinies (including the Amistad revolt), and end with the slaves’ arrival in port. Cooper’s emotionally intense, soft focus scenes of agonized or downcast captives are interspersed with crisply reproduced, mostly well-chosen art from Ancient Egypt to a mid-20th century mural; back matter includes a detailed chronology to 1808, when the trade was outlawed in the US, and a well-founded bibliography. A strong summary of an epic historical tragedy that is both sobering and illuminating. (index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 9-12) . . . —Hopkinson, Deborah A BAND OF ANGELS Illus. by Ra£l Col¢n Atheneum (40 pp.) $16.00 Jan. 1, 1999 ISBN: 0-679-81062-8 This fictionalized version of the formation of Fisk University’s Jubilee Singers should be packaged with handkerchiefs, because by the end there won’t be a dry eye among readers. Taking to the road in the early 1870s in a last-ditch effort to keep their college open, an African-American chorus plays to nearly empty houses as long as they sing “the popular white songs”; when, led by their pianist Ella Sheppard, they switch to then seldom-heard spirituals and slaves’ songs, they go on to international fame. In Col¢n’s stylized, combed paintings, a golden light shines down on nine solemn, dignified people singing their hearts out; it’s a portrayal that is so convincing that readers will almost hear the music. Hopkinson (Birdie’s Lighthouse, 1997, etc.) frames her moving, inspirational account as a modern family story shared by Sheppard’s descendants one of whom is a librarian at Fisk today. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-10258-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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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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Blandly laudatory.


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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