A straightforward biography that pays tribute to an impressive and courageous life.

IDA B. WELLS, VOICE OF TRUTH

EDUCATOR, FEMINIST, AND ANTI-LYNCHING CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER

An informative profile of trailblazing African American journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells.

Author Duster introduces the book’s subject in the form of an illustrated family photo album, explaining that Wells was her great-grandmother. Duster chronicles the major events in Wells’ life, beginning with her birth into slavery in 1862 and ending with her death in 1931. At the age of 16, Wells’ parents died, leaving her to care for five younger siblings. She became a teacher, began to write about social and political issues of the time, and stood up for social justice. In 1892, the lynching of three of Wells’ friends further stoked the fire in her belly. Her writing grew bolder, and she began to speak out publicly against racial discrimination, gender inequality, and lynching at the cost of her livelihood and personal safety. The text incorporates a few details about Wells’ personal life and includes an overview of her professional accomplishments—her work with the suffrage movement, co-founding of the NAACP, and creation of the Negro Fellowship League. Freeman’s trademark multitextured digital art emotionalizes the matter-of-fact text. Photographs and pamphlets written by Wells appear in the artwork as illustrated facsimiles. The story is bookended by striking double spreads displaying stirring quotes attributed to Wells in enormous hand lettering. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A straightforward biography that pays tribute to an impressive and courageous life. (timeline, tributes) (Picture book biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-23946-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

BASKETBALL DREAMS

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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