Never too soon to start stirring things up: “We may be small / but / we / can / ROAR!”

NO VOICE TOO SMALL

FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY

Tributes in prose and poetry to children and teens of today who have spoken out to support a cause or protest injustice.

Budding activists in search of child role models beyond the high-profile likes of Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg may well draw inspiration from this less-intimidating—but no less brave and worthy—lineup. For each, a poem by one of 14 poets and a laudatory paragraph flank an engaging, soft-focus portrait by Bradley that digitally emulates chalk and pastels on a textured brown background. “Each activist,” write the editors, “inspired a poet who relates to an aspect of the activist’s identity.” New Yorker Charles Waters, for instance, gives a shoutout to 6-year-old Samirah “DJ Annie Red” Horton, “proudly / representing the People’s Republic of Brooklyn” with her anti-bullying rap; Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, poses with his two moms next to a triolet from Lesléa Newman. Other contributors, including Carole Boston Weatherford, Janet Wong, and Joseph Bruchac, honor young people making good trouble in areas of contention as varied as climate change, gender identity, immigration law, safe drinking water, and gun violence. The contributors are as diverse of identity as their young subjects, and as a sidelight, the poems are cast in a variety of identified forms from free verse to reverso, cinquain, and tanka.

Never too soon to start stirring things up: “We may be small / but / we / can / ROAR!” (contributor bios, notes on poetic forms) (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62354-131-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.

THE ABCS OF BLACK HISTORY

An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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