A poignant and inspiring tale of a groundbreaking sports figure whose name and story should be well-known.



A biography of Charlie Sifford, the African-American man who integrated professional golf.

As a child, Charlie had to practice golf at night because black people weren’t allowed to play on private courses in 1930s Jim Crow North Carolina. So Charlie became a caddie and competed in—and won—tournaments for black players. Charlie wanted to play in the PGA, but the organization had a “Caucasians-only” rule. Joven’s art realistically portrays Charlie getting older as he moves the action forward, often using multiple illustrations per page. Light layers of color overlap, angular shapes giving the story a suitably retro look. Learning about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in Major League Baseball, leads Charlie to hope that he can integrate golf. When Charlie meets Jackie, Jackie is honest: “It’s going to be awfully tough, Charlie.” (The dialogue throughout is unsourced.) In her straightforward, quietly passionate narrative, Churnin records how Charlie keeps playing but can’t change the racist PGA rules. Finally, a Jewish lawyer, Stanley Mosk, successfully gets the rule rescinded, and Charlie becomes the first African-American PGA player. Churnin emphasizes that that isn’t the end of the discrimination and abuse Charlie suffers—but finally, one day, he hears a new sound: encouragement from the gallery instead of boos.

A poignant and inspiring tale of a groundbreaking sports figure whose name and story should be well-known. (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1128-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes.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

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.


Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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