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

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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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Timely and stirring.

ENOUGH!

20 PROTESTERS WHO CHANGED AMERICA

A shoutout to heroes of nonviolent protest, from Sam Adams to the Parkland students.

Kicking off a proud tradition, “Samuel threw a tea party.” In the same vein, “Harriet led the way,” “Susan cast her vote,” “Rosa kept her seat,” “Ruby went to school,” and “Martin had a dream.” But Easton adds both newer and less-prominent names to the familiar roster: “Tommie and John raised their fists” (at the 1968 Summer Olympics, also depicted on the cover), for instance; “John and Yoko stayed in bed”; “Gilbert sewed a rainbow” (for San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade in 1978); “Jazz wore a dress”; and “America [Ferrera] said, ‘Time’s up.’ ” Viewed from low or elevated angles that give them a monumental look, the grave, determined faces of the chosen subjects shine with lapidary dignity in Chen’s painted, close-up portraits. Variations in features and skin tone are rather subtle, but in general both the main lineup and groups of onlookers are visibly diverse. The closing notes are particularly valuable—not only filling in the context and circumstances of each act of protest (and the full names of the protesters), but laying out its personal consequences: Rosa Parks and her husband lost their jobs, as did Ruby Bridges’ first-grade teacher, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos were banned for life from Olympic competition. Pull quotes in both the art and the endnotes add further insight and inspiration.

Timely and stirring. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984831-97-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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While this book and its companion appear to be meant for the lower elementary grades, these British imports will require too...

REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

From the Children in Our World series

With this series entry, Roberts attempts to help readers understand that their peers in many parts of the world are suffering and becoming refugees because of “wars, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism.”

The book also speaks about migrants as people who “leave for a happier, healthier life, to join family members overseas, or because they don’t have enough money and need a job.” This effort aims to educate child readers, reassuring them that “most people have a safe and comfortable home to live in” and while “it can be upsetting to think about what life is like for refugees and migrants,” kids can do something to help. Some practical suggestions are provided and websites included for several aid organizations. Companion title Poverty and Hunger, by Louise Spilsbury and also illustrated by Kai, follows the same format, presenting a double-page spread with usually one to three short paragraphs on a topic. A yellow catlike animal with a black-and-white striped tail is found in every picture in both books and seems an odd unifying feature. Mixed-media illustrations in muted colors feature stylized children and adults against handsomely textured areas; they exude an empty sense of unreality in spite of racial diversity and varied landscapes. By trying too hard to make comparisons accessible, Roberts ends up trivializing some concepts. Speaking about camping and refugee camps in the same sentence is very misleading.

While this book and its companion appear to be meant for the lower elementary grades, these British imports will require too much adult intervention to be very useful. (bibliography, websites, glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4380-5020-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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