This joyful book celebrates the importance of language and taking it as your own, from early.

A LIKKLE MISS LOU

HOW JAMAICAN POET LOUISE BENNETT COVERLEY FOUND HER VOICE

The beauty of Jamaican patois jumps off the page in this tale of one of its most acclaimed wielders, poet Louise Bennett Coverley.

As dressmaker’s daughter Louise becomes enamored with language, readers see the nascent poet even as the young girl deals with the conflicts of balancing what feels like two worlds. This struggle will be familiar to children who speak multiple languages. In school, Louise is taught standard English, as it is the official language of her country, Jamaica, but at home and on the streets of Kingston, she is wrapped in the more jovial and just as significant Jamaican Creole. The juxtaposition of the King’s English and Jamaican patois will make for an early, fun lesson in code-switching. “I must say I love the silhouette,” one of Louise’s mother’s customers says; “Naw, miss, de frock fit you nice,” Louise’s mother replies. Vibrant, playful, sunny-hued illustrations depict the people, places, animals, and food that are characteristic of Jamaica. English and patois ornamentally splashed on a couple of pages serve to give even more life to the story and will enable readers to get a glimpse of the world through young Louise’s eyes.

This joyful book celebrates the importance of language and taking it as your own, from early. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-350-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

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Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes.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 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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