A beautiful book and a welcome addition to the picture-book–biography shelf.

LIFT AS YOU CLIMB

THE STORY OF ELLA BAKER

Early in life, Ella Baker listened to her grandfather’s sermons, her grandmother’s stories about life during slavery, and her mother’s advice to “Lift as you climb”: the lodestars that guided Baker to her purpose and accomplishments.

Powell’s verse biography chronicles the professional life of civil rights leader Ella Josephine Baker. Not as widely familiar as Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Dorothy Height, she nevertheless played a pivotal role in educating African Americans of all backgrounds about freedom, voting, and their rights. The book cites Baker’s working relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as her work with the NAACP and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Christie’s illustrations are in the style of African American folk art, a harmonious choice for the subject matter. Vivid colors abound, and the typeset alternates between black and white, both clearly legible against solid backgrounds. Centered in distinctive display type is Baker’s oft-repeated question, “What do you hope to accomplish?” There is an urgency to the clipped text, accentuated by frequent use of the em dash: “Ella thought [Dr. King] should ask— / not command. / Still, she agreed— / for the cause.” Substantial backmatter includes an author’s note with further information about Baker’s personal life, a glossary of the initialisms, a timeline, and a bibliography.

A beautiful book and a welcome addition to the picture-book–biography shelf. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0623-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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