An inspiring profile of a tenacious trailblazer that highlights the power of knowledge.

ONE WISH

FATIMA AL-FIHRI AND THE WORLD'S OLDEST UNIVERSITY

Born in present-day Tunisia in the early ninth century, Fatima al-Fihri craved knowledge and had one wish—to build a school where all would be welcome.

The story begins with Fatima’s early life and education. Her first word was iqra (read), and as a child, she was filled with curiosity about the world. At the time, girls from families of means were home-schooled while boys attended formal learning institutions. Fatima’s family had to flee their home due to war. During this difficult time, Fatima “stood tall, determined, and strong, / cradling her wish inside her,” a refrain used throughout the text to underscore her perseverance. As she grew older, Fatima got married, became a wealthy merchant, and lost loved ones, but she never stopped thinking about her wish. She “knew the best way to help her community was to build a school where students, especially the poor and the refugees, could live and study for free.” With the inheritance she gained after her father’s death, she began the taxing process of building and establishing the University of al-Qarawiyyin, which today remains the world’s oldest continually operating university. Several textual details reveal the important role Fatima’s Muslim faith played in her life, and Yuksel frequently employs figurative language to emphasize her strong convictions about education and equality. Quraishi’s transporting gouache-and-watercolor illustrations furnish a nuanced portrayal of the early medieval Arab world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An inspiring profile of a tenacious trailblazer that highlights the power of knowledge. (author’s note, notes, bibliography, glossary, timeline) (Picture book biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-303291-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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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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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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