Important history made beautiful and engaging.

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 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020


With powerful art from a bold new talent, this is a probing and sensitive take on a devastating chapter of U.S. history.

“How do you tell a story / that starts in Africa / and ends in horror?”

Alexander uses multiple voices to weave this poem about a teacher who takes on the difficult but necessary task of starting a classroom conversation about slavery. Between the theft of people from the African continent and the sale of people in America, from the ships that brought them and the ocean that swallowed some of them to their uncompensated work and the breakup of families, Alexander introduces objections from the implied listeners (“But you can’t sell people,” “That’s not fair”), despair from the narrating adult, encouragement from the youth, and ultimately an answer to the repeated question about how to tell this story. Rising star Coulter’s mixed-media art elevates the lyrical text with clarity and deep emotion: Using sculpted forms and paintings for the historical figures gives them a unique texture and lifelike fullness, while the charcoal drawings on yellow paper used for the present-day student-teacher interactions invite readers to step inside. Where Coulter combines the two, connecting past with present, the effect is stunning. Both young readers and adults unsure of how to talk about this painful past with children will find valuable insights.

With powerful art from a bold new talent, this is a probing and sensitive take on a devastating chapter of U.S. history. (author’s and illustrator’s notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-47312-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022



Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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