A moving real-life story well-told and beautifully illustrated.

MALALA YOUSAFZAI

WARRIOR WITH WORDS

A nonfiction picture book about a young Pakistani activist who believes that education is a basic human right.

Malala Yousafzai grew up in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where her father ran a school for girls. She loved books, words and language, and in 2007, when the Taliban came to power in the area and tried to ban education for girls, she started writing brave blog posts asserting that education is a fundamental right. The Taliban infamously responded to the 15-year-old’s courage by shooting her in the head as she sat in her school bus. Malala became an international cause célèbre, shining a light not only on the Taliban’s injustices, but also on the work of activists like her who resisted the regime. After she recovered, she spoke at the United Nations and then took her message—“Every child. Every country. Free school”—around the world. Malala is a celebrity among politically conscious adults, and her story is exactly the sort that captivates kids: A relatable young teenager who stands up to injustice in a simple, powerful way. Leggett Abouraya (Hands Around the Library, 2012) gets off to a slightly shaky, abstract start on the book’s first page: “Malala Yousafzai did not celebrate her sixteenth birthday with a sleepover, but with a stand-up.” After that, however, her words and her storytelling are clear and moving, revealing a real talent for understanding young audiences. Instead of introducing or explaining the Taliban within the body of the story, for example, she leaves it to a longer endnote so the main narrative can focus on Malala herself. When Malala is shot, the author uses straightforward language that isn’t sensationalistic and doesn’t overpower the gravity of the act. The author also highlights elements of Malala’s bright personality, including her love of the color pink, and quotes often from Malala’s speeches and blog. Wheatley’s illustrations meet the high standards set by the text, using cut paper and occasional photographs to create skillful compositions.

A moving real-life story well-told and beautifully illustrated.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-63083-316-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: StarWalk Kids Media

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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