BLACK GIRL MAGIC

A POEM

The most optimal way to enjoy this book is reading along with the author’s PBS video—that synergy makes this small book sing.

Wonder why this poet and these words seem so familiar? Readers may have caught her on PBS’ “Brief but Spectacular” video series reciting it with the velocity and verve it richly deserves.

This book feels like the keepsake one gives to all the black girls and women in one’s life who missed the clip. And, much like a lot of spoken-word poetry, it is better recited out loud than read silently on the page. Yet in this rich historical moment in which black women are loudly and proudly claiming more and diversified ownership of their works and the media itself, this is as much a document of that moment as it is an emerging, beloved tome for black girls of all ages to read and share in classrooms and conferences, over brunch, on a lazy Sunday in autumn, or whenever or wherever one needs an assuring word. The illustrator’s work adds a sweet—if not a little messy—handmade quality to the book, as if each copy has been crafted as a personal gift, complete with a monotone woodcut look to the depiction of one of the most intimate aspects of black womanhood, hair-braiding. Set in uppercase type that emulates hand-lettering, key words and phrases are picked out in red or ocher type, complementing the spare highlights in the black-on-cream palette.

The most optimal way to enjoy this book is reading along with the author’s PBS video—that synergy makes this small book sing. (Picture book. 6-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17372-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK

Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books.

Chicken soup for fans of Golden Books, from the line’s editorial director.

Reasoning that hard times have come to America (“The chickens have come home to roost, and their names are Debt, Depression, and Diabetes”), Muldrow offers this book as palliative. She gathers single illustrations from 61 Little Golden Books and adds pithy captions as anodynes, such as “Don’t panic…” (beneath Tibor Gergely’s 1948 image of a dismayed child holding detached braids) or “Have some pancakes” (Richard Scarry, 1949). Though some of her advice has a modern inflection (“Don’t forget your antioxidants!”), the pictures all come from titles published between 1942 and 1964 and so, despite the great diversity of artistic styles, have a quaint period look. Not to mention quaint period values, from views of apron-wearing housewives and pipe-smoking men (or bears) to, with but two exceptions, an all-white cast of humans. Furthermore, despite the title’s implication, the exhortations don’t always reflect the original story’s lesson or theme; rather than “Make a budget—and stick to it!” the lad in Miriam Young’s 5 Pennies To Spend (illustrated by Corinne Malvern, 1955) actually used his hoard to help others in need.

Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books. (Picture book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-97761-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

ON TWO FEET AND WINGS

Readers are often promised unforgettable protagonists—this memoir delivers one.

Abbas and his mother are about to board a plane for Turkey when authorities order her to remain in post-Revolution Iran with his father, Karim; Abbas, at Karim’s insistence, flies alone to Istanbul to stay and apply for a British visa—he is 9.

Abbas doesn’t speak Turkish; a promised helper fails him; the fleabag hotel he’s deposited in is in a dangerous neighborhood. His intelligence, resilience and cocky charm help (though he owes more to luck and the kindness of strangers). He survives—barely. Karim’s lessons (be wary of strangers, change currency on the black market, eat just one meal a day to save money) go only so far. Here, everyone’s a stranger. Abbas must learn to tell friend from foe. Kazerooni doesn’t dilute harsh events or assign them benign meanings retroactively—there’s no “everything happens for a reason.” Abbas’ anguish and fear, his repeatedly dashed hopes are wrenching. Yet whether he’s crushed or elated, the story itself is uplifting; readers will feel exhilarated when he solves a problem or makes the important discovery that what terrifies him—his vulnerability—is his biggest asset, bringing him notice from kindly adults who offer help. Other accounts of displaced children—China’s “paper sons,” young Central American refugees—have borne witness to ways human-generated calamities harm their weakest victims, but seldom this convincingly. Although Abbas’ account can be harrowing, it is told plainly, and these are not, regrettably, uncommon experiences for children, making this both accessible to and suitable for a middle-grade audience.

Readers are often promised unforgettable protagonists—this memoir delivers one. (author’s note) (Memoir. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4783-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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