A solid introduction for young sports fans.

GAME CHANGERS

THE STORY OF VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS

Two African-American sisters become superstars in the predominantly white sport of tennis.

Venus Williams and her younger sister, Serena, grew up in Compton, outside of LA. Their father, Richard Williams, had big dreams for his girls, and they embraced the hard work of learning and perfecting their tennis games. The girls eventually became exceptionally good, winning so many junior tournaments that word spread about them. Venus turned professional at age 14 and Serena followed a year later, and they quickly moved up through the tennis rankings. The sport had few nonwhite players, and they stood out in appearance and style. “Tennis had never seen anything like them.” Cline-Ransome focuses on the sisters’ early breakthrough years, ending the story when they first reached the pinnacle of the sport and faced each other to win major championships. The lively narrative does not shy away from the difficulties they faced but focuses on their determination to succeed and their close relationship. Ransome uses cut paper, pencil, and acrylic paints for pictures that are varied and energetic. The striking cover painting presents the recognizable faces that have graced many sports magazines. With an eye-catching design, the inside art is expressive and evocative, beginning with the endpapers. An afterword tells more of their story, including Venus’ struggle with an autoimmune disease and their off-court activism.

A solid introduction for young sports fans. (bibliography, further reading, notes) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7684-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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