From the She Persisted series

A likable, meaningful addition to the She Persisted collection.

In the latest installment in the She Persisted chapter-biography series, Knudsen and Flint bring to life a woman with whom many have some familiarity.

However, young readers—as well as not-so-young—will delight in discovering the many tiny details of Nellie Bly’s life. For example, her nickname was Pink because she loved the color so much. But her real name wasn’t Nellie; it was Elizabeth Jane Cochran. When her father died without a will, his estate was divided among Bly’s birth family and her 10 older half siblings, leaving Bly’s mother in straitened circumstances that led to her marriage to a violent second husband. Bly persevered possibly because of the hardships of her young life. Seeing her mother struggle fueled her determination to be self-sufficient. The book shines the most when it outlines how Elizabeth Jane transformed into Nellie Bly—women journalists were not allowed to use their proper names in print—and defied the norms of fashion journalism and society writing usually set aside for women. Bly became an internationally celebrated journalist based on her courageous, daring investigative journalism. This is a fast read, sure to engage transitioning independent readers or older reluctant readers. However, the information included will certainly hold the attention of more sophisticated readers. Flint’s delicate illustrations depict her White protagonist with confident, eager expressions. Per series formula, tips on how readers can persist close the title.

A likable, meaningful addition to the She Persisted collection. (bibliography) (Biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11574-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021


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

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. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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