Readable but limited and likely to be lost in the shuffle.

A tribute to the first Black woman to serve in Congress.

Brushing most of the biographical specifics into a closing timeline titled “The Chisholm Trail,” Cline-Ransome focuses on her subject’s pugnaciousness—following Shirley Chisholm from a child who was “always small, but she talked big, walked tall, and told just about everyone what to do” through the halls of state and then national government (“There may be some fireworks”) and her “Unbought and Unbossed” run for presidential candidate to retirement from Congress in 1983. Juanita punctuates scenes of Chisholm standing slender and confident in outsized eyeglasses and a crown of lacquered black hair before scowling (white male) opponents and racially diverse cheering crowds amid full-page emblematic outbursts—“What are you doing running for office?” “What does your husband think of all this?” “If you can’t support me, if you can’t endorse me, GET OUT OF MY WAY.” A closing gallery of political successors of color, from Barbara Jordan through Kamala Harris and Ilhan Omar, establishes her legacy, but she remains here no more than a distant, iconic figure. Readers may feel spoiled for choice, as this joins a recent gush of picture-book profiles, at least some of which offer warmer, more nuanced views of Chisholm as a person as well as a role model. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readable but limited and likely to be lost in the shuffle. (author’s note, photo) (Picture-book biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9781534463523

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


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

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. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


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

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 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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