Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art.

LIGHTNING DREAMER

An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba’s most influential writers.

Newbery Honor–winning Engle (The Surrender Tree, 2008) here imagines the youth of Cuban-born Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-73), a major 19th-century writer who was an abolitionist and feminist opposed to all forms of slavery, including arranged marriage. From Sab, her subject’s 1841 abolitionist novel, Engle loosely deduces her artistic development, not only including the two arranged marriages she refused in real life, but the budding writer’s struggles at home. There, “Tula” was subjected to the discriminatory views of her mother and grandfather, who sought to educate her only in the domestic arts since, according to Mamá, “Everyone knows that girls / who read and write too much / are unattractive.” Denied the education her brother received, Tula laments, “I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.” Engle’s clear, declarative verse animates the impassioned voice of Tula as well as other major figures in her life—her sympathetic brother, Manuel, the orphans she comes to love and entertain with grand plays meshing themes of autonomy and racial equality, and her family’s housekeeper, Caridad, a former slave who is eventually inspired by Tula’s wild tales of true emancipation to leave her confining situation.

Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art. (historical note, translated excerpts from Avellaneda’s work, bibliography) (Historical fiction/verse. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-80743-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A must-read reminder that transformation is made possible through community.

THE AWAKENING OF MALCOLM X

Explores historical threads of race, faith, and family as they weave together in the transformation of youthful, imprisoned Malcolm Little into empowered, purpose-driven Malcolm X.

Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, partners with rising literary star Jackson to explore 20-something Malcolm’s growth through reading, debate, and dialogue. This dedication and rediscovery of purpose, made manifest through newfound faith, would catapult him to the global stage as the chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam under the tutelage of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Refusing to establish his transformation as the marker of an unjust prison system’s rehabilitation strategy, this fictionalized retelling spotlights the relationships, perspectives, lessons, and questions delivered by Black men imprisoned around him and the critical embrace of a family that never abandoned him. “Wake up, Malcolm” is a cue that resounds throughout, linking the familial legacy of Malcolm’s parents, who held ties to ministry and served roles in the racial uplift mission of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Readers will make connections to persistent injustices faced by Black communities—and the beautiful ways which, despite that terror, Black families have found to craft visions of freedom and lives of dignity and love. This novel showcases the ways that becoming is a social process requiring care, commitment, and community but is ultimately world-changing work.

A must-read reminder that transformation is made possible through community. (more information, timeline, Malcolm X’s reading list, authors’ note) (Biographical novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31329-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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

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

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. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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