A good step-by-step portrayal of the dangers slaves were willing to risk for freedom and the complex, lifesaving...

VOICES FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Jeb and Mattie, siblings living under slavery on a Maryland plantation, tell their story of escape on the Underground Railroad.

The story, told in alternating voices, opens in 1861 with Jeb, a blacksmith and slave, whose free black co-worker and friend, Sam, is part of the Underground Railroad. When Mattie, a house slave, overhears plans to sell Jeb, the siblings know they must run to avoid their mother’s fate: being sold south. They follow the North Star to Sam’s house—the first stop on the Underground Railroad. From there, the different people they meet along the Railroad—conductor, station master, operative—are introduced, all with their own voices, one poem per spread. Slave owners and slave catchers also have voices, demonstrating historicity with the use of derogatory phrases for the slaves—caregivers should be ready to discuss these with child readers. Day’s illustrations, which have the look of ink and watercolor, are filled with details that elicit a nearly tangible sense of time and place. After many trials and travels over land and sea, the siblings make it to their destination: freedom in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Well-utilized endpapers map the siblings’ escape route.

A good step-by-step portrayal of the dangers slaves were willing to risk for freedom and the complex, lifesaving organization that was the Underground Railroad. (historical notes, note from the author, references) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4092-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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

BASKETBALL DREAMS

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. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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