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BE WATER, MY FRIEND

THE EARLY YEARS OF BRUCE LEE

Mochizuki chronicles the famed and iconic actor’s early life for young readers. Bruce Lee was actually born in San Francisco, while his father was touring with the Cantonese Opera Company. He grew up in Hong Kong, restless and argumentative, but loving to read and dance. He studied martial arts, including the hard lessons of yielding and suppleness. The title, a quote from Lee, recognizes how water cannot be grabbed, shattered or hurt, but it can wear down anything. His study of martial arts led to a boxing championship, which led to more fights, so at 18, his parents sent him to San Francisco. The illustrations are dramatic and effective: Lee uses encaustic over acrylic on paper, and scratches the images in the wax. The results are rich sepia-toned images with great depth; Lee looks rather nerdy in his early years, which will no doubt lend appeal. The narrative language is somewhat stilted, but clear. A brief page of facts continues the story through stardom and early death. (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58430-265-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

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Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown and HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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