A playful introduction to Bessie’s exciting, triumphant, and unforgettable story.

FAST ENOUGH

BESSIE STRINGFIELD'S FIRST RIDE

Future black female motorcyclist Bessie Stringfield triumphs over boys who say she can’t join their daily bike races in this fictional imagining of her childhood.

“Have you ever been told you are not enough?” Bessie was. Boys, black and white, are shown telling this darker-skinned girl with very large afro puffs that she isn’t “pretty enough” or “tough enough.” After school, they race past her, laughing when she says she wants to join them. Downcast, Bessie asks Mama if “girls can ride [bikes] fast,” to which Mama replies, “the only one who knows for sure is the Man Upstairs.” At bedtime, she asks in prayer, with one eye open, and then falls asleep. In her dream, she rides like magic through vast landscapes and cityscapes, so fast “she even raced up into the night sky.” She wakes up ready, and that afternoon, when the boys say “Go!” she zooms past them, astonishing everyone. Dark brown, gold, and neutral tones dominate the captivating scenes, which segue skillfully into paragraphs of backmatter information in smaller font about Stringfield’s impressive exploits. She traveled widely on her motorcycle(s) in the mid-20th century, using the Negro Motorist Green Book to stay safe when riding across America. Discrepancies between different versions of her life story are explained as an example of how legends grow.

A playful introduction to Bessie’s exciting, triumphant, and unforgettable story. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5493-0314-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cub House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space.

CAVE PAINTINGS

A trip to grandmother’s launches light-years beyond the routine sort, as a human child travels from deep space to Earth.

The light-skinned, redheaded narrator journeys alone as flight attendants supply snacks to diverse, interspecies passengers. The kid muses, “Sometimes they ask me, ‘Why are you always going to the farthest planet?’ ”The response comes after the traveler hurtles through the solar system, lands, and levitates up to the platform where a welcoming grandmother waits: “Because it’s worth it / to cross one universe / to explore another.” Indeed, child and grandmother enter an egg-shaped, clear-domed orb and fly over a teeming savanna and a towering waterfall before disembarking, donning headlamps, and entering a cave. Inside, the pair marvel at a human handprint and ancient paintings of animals including horses, bison, and horned rhinoceroses. Yockteng’s skilled, vigorously shaded pictures suggest references to images found in Lascaux and Chauvet Cave in France. As the holiday winds down, grandmother gives the protagonist some colored pencils that had belonged to grandfather generations back. (She appears to chuckle over a nude portrait of her younger self.) The pencils “were good for making marks on paper. She gave me that too.” The child draws during the return trip, documenting the visit and sights along the journey home. “Because what I could see was infinity.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-172-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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