Sweeping and grand, this personal take on a familiar story is an engaging success.

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THE BOY WHO FELL OFF THE MAYFLOWER, OR JOHN HOWLAND'S GOOD FORTUNE

A much-longer-than-typical picture book about the Mayflower’s first landing in America and its aftermath, told through the eyes of one of its passengers.

Based on historical fact, this feast of a book, the first illustrator Lynch has authored as well, will captivate readers from its opening double-page spread. Lynch’s masterful watercolor and gouache illustrations—harkening back to the grand style of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth—bring to life the true story of indentured servant John Howland, who sailed on the Mayflower with his master in 1620. Howland’s narration relates the difficult ocean crossing and how, in a storm, he is swept overboard but miraculously rescued. Once land is reached, however, Howland and the other settlers find their difficulties have begun in earnest. Winter weather, lack of food, sickness, and aggression toward the native peoples all contribute to the demise of more than half the original settlers. But spring comes, the native people offer help, and the familiar Thanksgiving story is broached. What sets this book apart from myriad Pilgrim stories is Howland’s personal point of view, which helps readers enter into the tenor of the time, when the settlers’ religious faith both motivated and sustained them, and the dramatic illustrations with their expert play of expression, composition, and light.

Sweeping and grand, this personal take on a familiar story is an engaging success.   (bibliography, author’s note) (Picture book. 6-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6584-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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