PICTURING A NATION

THE GREAT DEPRESSION’S FINEST PHOTOGRAPHERS INTRODUCE AMERICA TO ITSELF

In 1935, as part of its effort to support farmers, the Resettlement Administration (later renamed the Farm Security Administration) began a photography program.

With remarkable foresight, project administrator Roy Stryker recognized that the photographers should move beyond the stated goal of photographing government agents providing aid: He instructed his talented team to create images that “introduced America to Americans.” The best American photographers, many unemployed, participated, crafting achingly honest images of desperation and hope, many of which later became iconic. Later Stryker would prevent the destruction of the huge archive of photographs at a time when few recognized its value as both a historical record and as brilliant art. Sandler has gathered together both familiar images and ones less often reproduced,  most in black and white but some in color. A general overview of the project is followed by sets of photographs arranged by region. Each group is accompanied by an introduction that provides context by describing issues significant to the area. Informative captions can be challenging to read, displayed in small white font on a dark background. Although the text is both accurate and engaging, the greatest value of this effort may be in reaching those who just browse the beautifully reproduced images that are outstanding in depicting both challenges and the heroic human response in a difficult time. Profiles of the photographers (almost all White, save for Gordon Parks, an African American) enhance an already excellent presentation.

Stunning. (source notes, bibliography, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 11-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1525-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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