Inspirational pairings of art and verse to read and recite in tribute to those who walked that perilous road.

READ REVIEW

FREEDOM'S A-CALLIN ME

One slave is the poetic voice for those who toil on a cotton plantation and look to the North Star, following the Underground Railroad to freedom.

Shange wrote the poems in response to Brown's paintings and provides a sound stage for not only the many men and women who sought freedom but also those who were fearful of leaving. The dramatic oil paintings open in the stark white of the cotton fields. In the following tableaux, slaves are whipped, run through swamps, barely ahead of trackers and their dogs, and receive help from white abolitionists and Sojourner Truth. One powerful double-page spread shows a runaway hiding under floor boards, with slivers of light coming through. The end of the road finally comes in Michigan, where white snow on ground and trees serves as a beautiful counterpoint to the opening scene. Painter and poet previously collaborated on We Troubled the Waters (2009), and in this volume they have created a focused narrative that is troubling, violent and soul-stirring. In the title poem, the man says “ah may get tired / good Lawd / ah may may be free.”

Inspirational pairings of art and verse to read and recite in tribute to those who walked that perilous road. (Picture book/poetry. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-133741-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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An opening promise of “beauty and magic and disturbing twists” goes unfulfilled in this monotonous parade of ancient names...

HEROES OF OLYMPUS

A numbing catalog of “Gods, Goddesses, Monsters, and Mortals” from Greek and Roman mythology, condescendingly “adapted” for younger audiences from a juicier version for adults.

Spun off from Freeman’s Oh My Gods! (2012) but hardly differing in page count, Calkhoven’s methodical treatments of 60-some classical myths and legends only rephrase and tone down Freeman’s language. She leaves most of the (nearly continual) sex and violence in but describes it euphemistically or in dryly factual ways. The retellings arbitrarily blend Greek and Roman versions of names (Zeus, Hercules) and inconsistently render some in English (“Sky” rather than Uranus and “Earth” rather than Gaia, but only proper names for all of their offspring). The dozens of headed entries begin with “Creation” and, after Cronus castrates his father (or, as it’s put here, “slashed Sky’s flesh”) the war between gods and titans. Thereafter in no particular order (except that the Roman entries come last) come short accounts of individual gods and demigods mixed with topical overviews (“Goddesses,” “Heroes”), genealogical recitations and short summaries of epic tales (“Troy”) or legends (“Scaevola”). Original sources for all of these get scarcely a mention, and though many of the tales are not among the usual suspects, readers needing reminders of who Despoina, Otus, Ephialtes and dozens of less familiar figures are will get no help from the spotty annotated cast list at the end.

An opening promise of “beauty and magic and disturbing twists” goes unfulfilled in this monotonous parade of ancient names and detached barbarism. Illustrations not seen. (Mythology. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1729-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Readers will understand how Sendler came to be honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as one of the Righteous...

IRENA'S CHILDREN

YOUNG READERS EDITION

In Jewish belief, there are righteous people in every generation who can repair a tear in the universe. Irena Sendler was truly one of them.

Born into a comfortable Polish Catholic family, Irena had many Jewish friends growing up, and they shared idealistic beliefs. When the Germans invaded Poland and set off World War II, she was determined to assist the Jewish population in any way possible, especially those in the walled-off Warsaw ghetto. Carrying necessary papers she was able to enter and leave the ghetto. She and like-minded Poles rescued as many as 2,500 Jewish children, carefully recording names and keeping them in a jar (never found). She kept up her mission even as conditions within the walls became worse, as starvation, disease, the “murderous brutality” of the German occupying forces, and deportations to extermination camps grew in intensity. Even arrest, torture, and a miraculous release from certain death did not stop her. Farrell’s adaptation of Mazzeo’s adult title (2016) clearly presents her life and the ever present reality of death in a sobering, heartbreaking narrative.

Readers will understand how Sendler came to be honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. (black-and-white photographs, adapter’s note, endnotes not seen) (Biography. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4991-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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