Important history made beautiful and engaging.

SHE WAS THE FIRST!

THE TRAILBLAZING LIFE OF SHIRLEY CHISHOLM

This picture-book biography shows how Shirley Chisolm’s upbringing and talents led to her career in politics and her historic run for the U.S. presidency.

By the age of 3, Shirley was leading children twice her age in play. When finances were difficult at home in Brooklyn, her parents brought her and her sister to live with her grandmother in Barbados, where she experienced farm life and beaches and saw Black people in all sorts of positions. Readjusting to New York at age 10 during the Great Depression was difficult, but Shirley ultimately excelled in school, completing college and going on to become a schoolteacher before her work with community groups led her into politics. Approximately half of the story details Shirley’s childhood and youth, and the other half shows Chisholm’s transition from teaching into politics, focusing on how she gave a voice to the powerless. Russell-Brown’s text does a remarkable job of pulling together the threads of Shirley’s life to show how her experiences informed her life trajectory, ending on a note of triumph even though she does not win the presidential nomination. Velasquez’s watercolor illustrations are full of life, using texture and light to capture vivid and varied scenery, personalities, and emotion. An extensive afterword expounds upon Chisholm’s continuing legacy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 61.2% of actual size.)

Important history made beautiful and engaging. (sources, credits) (Picture book biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62014-346-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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 lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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