A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist.

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IT BEGAN WITH A PAGE

HOW GYO FUJIKAWA DREW THE WAY

Pencil in hand, faced with an unjust world, Gyo Fujikawa created a new future.

At 5, Japanese American Gyo Fujikawa didn’t yet know what she wanted to be. She knew a pencil fit well in her hand, and she liked to fill empty pages with pictures of her world. As she grew, Fujikawa used her passion for art and her mother’s activism to guide her education and inspiration. Defying gender conventions, Fujikawa attended college in 1926, when few American women did. Studying in Japan, she exchanged restrictive art classes for travel and aesthetic immersion. Back in the U.S., her family was sent to an internment camp on the West Coast while she began an art career at Disney on the East Coast, causing Fujikawa to lose her desire to draw. Eventually, she found a way to wield her craft to fight injustice. Her first book, Babies, published in 1963, featured racially diverse babies playing together and became a huge success despite publisher prejudice and misgivings. Morstad’s artwork precisely balances white space with vignettes, black-and-white illustrations with eye-catching color. Often mimicking Fujikawa’s style, Morstad layers engaging details and deep emotional resonance onto Maclear’s spare, poetic text. Backmatter includes a detailed timeline with photos and quotes, an extensive note from the creators, and a selected bibliography and sources list.

A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-244762-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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