NELSON MANDELA

A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them.

An inspirational ode to the life of the great South African leader by an award-winning author and illustrator.

Mandela’s has been a monumental life, a fact made clear on the front cover, which features an imposing, full-page portrait. The title is on the rear cover. His family gave him the Xhosa name Rolihlahla, but his schoolteacher called him Nelson. Later, he was sent to study with village elders who told him stories about his beautiful and fertile land, which was conquered by European settlers with more powerful weapons. Then came apartheid, and his protests, rallies and legal work for the cause of racial equality led to nearly 30 years of imprisonment followed at last by freedom for Mandela and for all South Africans. “The ancestors, / The people, / The world, / Celebrated.” Nelson’s writing is spare, poetic, and grounded in empathy and admiration. His oil paintings on birch plywood are muscular and powerful. Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up.

A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-178374-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN

Heartening.

One determined man brings two villages together with a hammer, chisel, and an iron will.

Deep in the heart of India, a mighty mountain separates two villages. Manjhi lives on one side, where nothing grows. On the other, rice and wheat flourish. The people there are affluent, while Manjhi’s village struggles with hunger. Manjhi climbs to the top of the mountain to ponder this problem. When he throws a stone, it triggers a sprinkle of powder, which gives him an idea. Manjhi trades his trio of goats for a hammer and chisel. Hurrying back to the top of the mountain, he positions the chisel and strikes it with the hammer. Powdered rock and tiny chips spray. He continues until he’s exhausted, but he’s also filled with hope. Even though people tell him he’s “crazy,” day after day Manjhi returns to the mountain. After a year, Majhi is a little stronger, and the hole he has made a little deeper. He perseveres and, when he returns to his task each day, notices that others have continued his work. It takes 22 years, but Manjhi lives to see the day that two villages become one, sharing water, hopes, and dreams. Churnin’s prose has an elegance appropriate for her inspiring tale, which is based on a true story. Popovich’s double-page illustrations use a warm palette and are nicely composed.

Heartening. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939547-34-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

LONG, TALL LINCOLN

A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures.

Abraham Lincoln’s ascent to the presidency is recounted in a fluid, easy-to-read biography for early readers.

Simple, direct sentences stress Lincoln’s humble upbringing, his honesty, and his devotion to acting with moral conviction. “Lincoln didn’t seem like a man who would be president one day. But he studied hard and became a lawyer. He cared about people and about justice.” Slavery and Lincoln’s signature achievement of emancipation are explained in broad yet defined, understandable analogies. “At that time, in the South, the law let white people own black people, just as they owned a house or a horse.” Readers are clearly given the president’s perspective through some documented memorable quotes from his own letters. “Lincoln did not like slavery. ‘If slavery is not wrong,’ he wrote to a friend ‘nothing is wrong.’ ” (The text does not clarify that this letter was written in 1865 and not before he ascended to the presidency, as implied by the book.) As the war goes on and Lincoln makes his decision to free the slaves in the “Southern states”—“a bold move”—Lincoln’s own words describe his thinking: “ ‘If my name ever goes into history,’ Lincoln said, ‘it will be for this act.’ ” A very basic timeline, which mentions the assassination unaddressed in the text, is followed by backmatter providing photographs, slightly more detailed historical information, and legacy. It’s a pity that the text is accompanied by unremarkable, rudimentary opaque paintings.

A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243256-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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