An unusually slight offering from an author whose work is usually so compelling.

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BRAVO!

POEMS ABOUT AMAZING HISPANICS

This book features the lives of a variety of Latinos who faced life’s challenges with aplomb and in their own ways.

Celebrated Cuban-American author Engle presents the lives of some well-known Latinos such as the musician Tito Puente, labor union organizer César Chávez, and National Baseball Hall of Fame player Roberto Clemente. Others are not as familiar to children today but still left their marks on our country: Father Félix Varela, who became an advocate of equal rights for Irish immigrants; Paulina Pedroso, who openly defied racial segregation; Aída de Acosta, who flew a dirigible six months before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane; and George Meléndez Wright, first chief of the National Parks Wildlife Division and a renowned conservationist. Given his close association with Cuba rather than the United States, the inclusion of poet José Martí is puzzling. Each one of the 18 people presented is awarded a double-page spread. On one page each person is stunningly portrayed in López’s strong and vibrant style; opposite is a first-person biographical poem that provides a glimpse into its subject’s life. At the end of the book the author has included a brief biographical note about each, yet between poem and note readers may find they are left with a large information gap. A further list of other outstanding Latinos is also included.

An unusually slight offering from an author whose work is usually so compelling. (Picture book/biography/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9876-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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