A stirring, soulful, well-researched look at the groundwork that informed Miles’ signature sound, offering an entry point to...

Celebrating the incomparable jazz legend Miles Davis, Berman and Brown focus on the people, sounds, and experiences that shaped his unique ear, laying the foundation for a nearly half-century hallmark career.

It can prove quite difficult to share the life story of Miles Davis for younger audiences. Looking beyond the pace-setting, genre-redefining musical legacy, a whole host of complications appear. Here Berman trains her lens on a young Miles: navigating Jim Crow–era segregation in high school, breaking out to finding his place in a bustling New York jazz scene, and navigating early-career anxieties, strife, and “dark days” before taking center stage again at 29 as the audience “goes wild…electrified and satisfied.” In this rendering that accents change just as much as genius, readers are left with lessons of perseverance, critical listening, and the importance of embracing their own uniqueness. Brown goes to work on the illustrations, accompanying the free-verse text with inspired ink-and-watercolor paintings that use color and perspective to evoke Miles’ sound. An amazing touch throughout is the inclusion of timeless quotes from Miles himself in a display type that appropriately acknowledges the gravelly, gruff voice that made those sparingly delivered words pop that much more. Neither the primary text nor the author’s note addresses Davis’ serial abuse, so this is just an introduction.

A stirring, soulful, well-researched look at the groundwork that informed Miles’ signature sound, offering an entry point to a towering, complicated figure who reshaped 20th-century music again and again. (illustrator’s note, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-690-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019


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


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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