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An unusually diverse gallery also valuable for calling attention to some less-renowned deeds and doers.

Short tributes to active, courageous women who accomplished extraordinary feats and firsts.

Though Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, and Sylvia Earle have well-earned entries, most of the achievers here will be less familiar even to inveterate role-model seekers. Also, except for Charlotte Small, a half-White/half-Nehiyaw (Cree) explorer who traveled over three times farther than the roughly contemporary Lewis and Clark, the lineup is a relatively modern one. It’s racially diverse enough to give nods to African American anthropologist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston for her studies of Vodou and Kalpana Chawla, the first astronaut born in India, and it’s otherwise inclusive enough to feature paraplegic climber/skier Karen Darke and to hail both 64-year-old lesbian Diana Nyad’s Cuba-to–Key West swim and teenager Laura Dekker’s solo sail around the world. (The latter three women are White.) Mention of the Aymara women in Bolivia who call themselves the Cholitas Climbers and a group entry for the Black Mambas, a South African anti-poaching squad, expand the titular total, as does a brief interview at the end with intercontinental motorcyclist Lois Pryce, who’s White. Johnston’s profiles focus more on exploits than personal details (though there is a reference to Nyad’s “girlfriend”), and if Perera’s painted portraits are more representational than realistic, they do pose their smiling subjects in outdoorsy garb and settings. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-18.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

An unusually diverse gallery also valuable for calling attention to some less-renowned deeds and doers. (map, index, resource list) (Collective biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0110-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case.

The distinguished jurist stands tall as a role model.

Not literally tall, of course—not only was she actually tiny but, as with all the other bobbleheaded caricatures in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, Ginsburg, sporting huge eyeglasses on an outsize head over black judicial robes even in childhood, remains a doll-like figure in all of Eliopoulos’ cartoon scenes. It’s in the frank acknowledgment of the sexism and antisemitism she resolutely overcame as she went from reading about “real female heroes” to becoming one—and also the clear statement of how she so brilliantly applied the principle of “tikkun olam” (“repairing the world”) in her career to the notion that women and men should have the same legal rights—that her stature comes clear. For all the brevity of his profile, Meltzer spares some attention for her private life, too (“This is Marty. He loved me, and he loved my brains. So I married him!”). Other judicial activists of the past and present, all identified and including the current crop of female Supreme Court justices, line up with a diversely hued and abled group of younger followers to pay tribute in final scenes. “Fight for the things you care about,” as a typically savvy final quote has it, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case. (timeline, photos, source list, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593533338

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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