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BARACK OBAMA by Nikki Grimes


Son of Promise, Child of Hope

by Nikki Grimes & illustrated by Bryan Collier

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7144-3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

When David wonders why all those people on TV are shouting one man’s name, his mother tells him Barack Obama’s story. Accompanied by Collier’s trademark, powerful collages, Grimes’s storytelling voice, heavily tinged with the gospel rhythms of the black church, relates the particulars of Obama’s youth, from his childhood in Hawaii and yearning for his estranged father, to his days as a community activist in Illinois, in the Senate and, most briefly, his presidential campaign. David’s questions and his mother’s responses punctuate each double-page spread, never letting readers forget the story’s frame. It’s a contrivance that works, perhaps because it’s so obviously informed by the author’s own passion, described in a concluding note. Based primarily on Obama’s Dreams from My Father (2004) as well as other sources, this work stands on shaky nonfiction ground, as Grimes admits to taking artistic license; most troubling are unsourced quotations within the text. Still, of the three candidates’ picture-book biographies out this season, this stands as the one most likely to communicate to children on a visceral level. (author’s, illustrator’s notes, resources, timeline, family tree) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)