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: March 1, 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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An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

MORE THAN PEACH

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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