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

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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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A quietly compelling look at an impoverished family’s resourcefulness and resilience.

HOME IN THE WOODS

Wheeler shares a poignant tale, based on her grandmother’s childhood, of a Depression-era family’s hard times.

Marvel, 6, has seven siblings. Their newly widowed mother guides them, as they carry their worldly goods along, into the woods, where they find an abandoned shack. Though decrepit, it’s got a root cellar, a functioning water pump, a wood stove, and a garden spot rich with leaf mold. As summer yields to autumn, Mum does chores for pay in town. The children draw lots for the home tasks: laundry (hand-scrubbed and hung to dry), wood-splitting, and more. A bountiful harvest engenders prodigious canning as the family prepares for the bitter weather ahead. While the children must buy only basic supplies at the general store, their doleful window shopping produces an inventive outdoor game, in which “We can buy anything we want!” Winter brings snow and cold, quilting, reading by the wood stove, and a wild-turkey stew. Wheeler’s lovely ink-and-watercolor double-page spreads, in somber grays, sunlight yellow, and meadow green, evoke both the period and the family’s stark poverty. The thin faces are gray-white, with dark hair and pale pink cheeks. Delicate visual details abound, from the sparkle of evening raindrops to Mum’s side-buttoned apron. Marvel’s ruminative narration takes occasional poetic turns: “Mum stays awake / into the night… / …whispering / to / the / stars.”

A quietly compelling look at an impoverished family’s resourcefulness and resilience. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16290-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event.

LET THE CHILDREN MARCH

A vibrantly illustrated account of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade through the eyes of a young girl who volunteers to participate.

Morrison’s signature style depicts each black child throughout the book as a distinct individual; on the endpapers, children hold signs that collectively create a “Civil Rights and the Children’s Crusade” timeline, placing the events of the book in the context of the greater movement. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. comes to speak at her church, a girl and her brother volunteer to march in their parents’ stead. The narrative succinctly explains why the Children’s Crusade was a necessary logistical move, one that children and parents made with careful consideration and despite fear. Lines of text (“Let the children march. / They will lead the way // The path may be long and / troubled, but I’m gonna walk on!”) are placed within the illustrations in bold swoops for emphasis. Morrison’s powerful use of perspective makes his beautiful oil paintings even more dynamic and conveys the intensity of the situations depicted, including the children’s being arrested, hosed, and jailed. The child crusaders, regardless of how badly they’re treated, never lose their dignity, which the art conveys flawlessly. While the children win the day, such details as the Confederate flag subtly connect the struggle to the current day.

A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event. (timeline, afterword, artist’s statement, quote sources, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-70452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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