OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR

A CELEBRATION OF ROSA, BARACK, AND THE PIONEERS OF CHANGE

Taking its inspiration from the saying that emerged during the 2008 presidential campaign—“Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Barack could run. Barack ran so our children can soar!”—this book takes readers step by step through American history from freed slaves in the Civil War to the future, touching on Hattie McDaniel, Ruby Bridges, Thurgood Marshall and other African-American “Pioneers of Change” along the way. Each page turn is devoted to one Great, illustrated by one of 12 noted African-American illustrators (and Diane Dillon). The patterned text provides unity and continuity, while the varying artistic styles keep the visual energy high. As with any effort of this ilk, the pressure of a compressed production schedule can be seen in some oversimplified compositions and rushed lines, but at its best, it soars too. The Dillons’ study of George Washington Carver is a miracle of botanical intensity; AG Ford’s Jesse Owens sprints off the page. Thumbnail biographies of each figure appear at the end, along with brief statements from each illustrator. All in all, a lovely and suitably moving commemoration. (Picture book. 5 & up)

Pub Date: April 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59990-418-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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