A handsome volume befitting its subject.

READ REVIEW

FOR SPACIOUS SKIES

KATHARINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL"

From the She Made History series

The story behind one of America’s iconic songs.

Katharine Lee Bates grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts, during the Civil War, so she knew about living in a divided country and experienced the unfairness of being a girl: “The boys she knew grew up to be fishermen or studied to become doctors or lawyers or businessmen. Girls learned to mend and cook.” But she went to Wellesley College, helped to start a settlement house for immigrants, spoke out for world peace and women’s suffrage, and became a college professor. On a train trip across the country in 1893, she marveled at Niagara Falls, the World’s Fair in Chicago, and the endless fields of wheat in Kansas, but she also was aware of the plights of workers in mines, fields, and factories during the economic depression. When she saw grand vistas from the summit of Pikes Peak, she was inspired to write the first lines of a poem expressing her vision of a united nation, a land shared by all. Nowadays, most people singing “America the Beautiful” (melody by composer Samuel A. Ward) have no idea of the political and social context behind the poem Bates wrote. Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations. Almost all characters are white. The text of a revised version of the poem concludes the volume.

A handsome volume befitting its subject. (author’s note, timeline, sources, acknowledgments) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2530-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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