Impeccably honors its subject.

TWENTY-ONE STEPS

GUARDING THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

An up-close look at the sentinels who protect and honor America’s fallen.

“I am an Unknown. I am one of many.” Instantly personal, instantly heart-rending. The unnamed, unknown soldier in the tomb at Arlington National Cemetery tells this story. World War I took not only the lives of many, but, tragically, their identities as well. “Nameless and faceless” heroes were impossible to reunite with loved ones. Families were unable to properly mourn. In 1921, one soldier was chosen to represent the Unknowns. Gottesfeld’s text, spare and shining, gently gives the backstory. But it is the unexpected footsteps—21 to be exact—of the soldier who stands guard and 21 seconds of silence that resound loudly and purely. “With each step, my war was over.” Forearms are kept at 90-degree angles. Hat brims are two finger widths above the eye. The precision of dress and deliberate, smooth actions of the Tomb Guards emanate honor and respect, but the first-person narration shows a personal perspective. A 24-hour guard gives comfort and companionship. “From that moment, I have never been alone again.” Tavares’ magisterial art soars, awash in opposing forces: shadowed but luminous, soaked in both melancholy and reverence. All sentinels (“men and women of every race, religion, and creed”) take this honor seriously, expressed in the “Sentinel’s Creed” reproduced in the frontmatter. The fallen who have died nameless deserve the very best. This is it.

Impeccably honors its subject. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0148-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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With powerful art from a bold new talent, this is a probing and sensitive take on a devastating chapter of U.S. history.

AN AMERICAN STORY

“How do you tell a story / that starts in Africa / and ends in horror?”

Alexander uses multiple voices to weave this poem about a teacher who takes on the difficult but necessary task of starting a classroom conversation about slavery. Between the theft of people from the African continent and the sale of people in America, from the ships that brought them and the ocean that swallowed some of them to their uncompensated work and the breakup of families, Alexander introduces objections from the implied listeners (“But you can’t sell people,” “That’s not fair”), despair from the narrating adult, encouragement from the youth, and ultimately an answer to the repeated question about how to tell this story. Rising star Coulter’s mixed-media art elevates the lyrical text with clarity and deep emotion: Using sculpted forms and paintings for the historical figures gives them a unique texture and lifelike fullness, while the charcoal drawings on yellow paper used for the present-day student-teacher interactions invite readers to step inside. Where Coulter combines the two, connecting past with present, the effect is stunning. Both young readers and adults unsure of how to talk about this painful past with children will find valuable insights.

With powerful art from a bold new talent, this is a probing and sensitive take on a devastating chapter of U.S. history. (author’s and illustrator’s notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-47312-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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