A musical journey perfectly aimed at young readers’ excitement to know what they will be.

WHEN ANGELS SING

THE STORY OF ROCK LEGEND CARLOS SANTANA

From the three-way scrimmage among his great-aunt, his father, and his mother for the right to name him—his mother won—to his growth as a musician, Carlos yearns to hear the song of angels.

Instrument after instrument fails to resonate within his heart until the chords of a guitar stand his arm hairs on end. “An angel’s breath?” But not even his beloved guitar can drown out the English-speaking bullies in San Francisco schools, so he runs away and returns to Tijuana. His family, however disagrees. They’d left Mexico for a better life, and they will not let Carlos stay behind. Bit by bit, the city’s diverse cultural harmonies become one: “the soul of the blues,…the brains of jazz,…the energy of rock and roll…the slow heat of Afro-Cuban drums and the cilantro-scented sway of the music you’d grown up with.” The Santana Blues Band plays through Carlos’ homesickness, plays through Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, plays through Vietnam’s destruction and America’s unrest, until, in front of 400,000 people in Woodstock, the angels finally sing—not to but within Carlos. Ramírez’s double-page–spread acrylic-and–enamel-marker images evoke the vibrant electric energy of Huichol yarn art. The years denoting milestones in Carlos’ story subtly blend into the multicolored pages. Mahin’s second-person lyrical narrative unites the disparate elements that ultimately became Santana.

A musical journey perfectly aimed at young readers’ excitement to know what they will be. (author’s note, bibliography, discography) (Picture book/biography. 6-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0413-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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