Readers who know the definition of “vexillologist” may be the target audience, but even people with no interest in geography...




Flags elicit complex emotions, and so will this celebration of flags around the globe.

Flags are often records of conquest or colonization. Many of them feature the Union Jack, as a reminder that the British Empire once ruled almost a quarter of the world. It’s a poignant detail, and it’s also led to flags that look as if they were designed by a committee. The Union Jack, for example, throws together symbols from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some readers may find themselves longing for the flag of Brunei, which, for generations, was a plain yellow rectangle. Fresson doesn’t judge. The book has been laid out so skillfully that even the busiest flag looks beautiful. In a few cases, the images in the background mirror the colors of the flags; the Greek flag is in front of a pale blue seascape, for instance. There’s a surprising amount of drama in the book. Afghanistan, he notes, has gone through so many upheavals that its flag has changed 21 times. There’s even a bit of humor, or at least whimsy. Tiny figures dressed in primary colors (with brown skin) manually assemble the different icons that make up each flag. They look like little cheerleaders or superheroes, though he calls them the Vexillologists. The book does not try for comprehensiveness and avoids current controversy (the flag of Tibet is not on display, for instance); its organization by design rather than geography makes it ideal for browsing.

Readers who know the definition of “vexillologist” may be the target audience, but even people with no interest in geography might find themselves entertained and even a little tearful. (Nonfiction. 6-12)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-908714-46-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Cicada Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Timely and stirring.



A shoutout to heroes of nonviolent protest, from Sam Adams to the Parkland students.

Kicking off a proud tradition, “Samuel threw a tea party.” In the same vein, “Harriet led the way,” “Susan cast her vote,” “Rosa kept her seat,” “Ruby went to school,” and “Martin had a dream.” But Easton adds both newer and less-prominent names to the familiar roster: “Tommie and John raised their fists” (at the 1968 Summer Olympics, also depicted on the cover), for instance; “John and Yoko stayed in bed”; “Gilbert sewed a rainbow” (for San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade in 1978); “Jazz wore a dress”; and “America [Ferrera] said, ‘Time’s up.’ ” Viewed from low or elevated angles that give them a monumental look, the grave, determined faces of the chosen subjects shine with lapidary dignity in Chen’s painted, close-up portraits. Variations in features and skin tone are rather subtle, but in general both the main lineup and groups of onlookers are visibly diverse. The closing notes are particularly valuable—not only filling in the context and circumstances of each act of protest (and the full names of the protesters), but laying out its personal consequences: Rosa Parks and her husband lost their jobs, as did Ruby Bridges’ first-grade teacher, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos were banned for life from Olympic competition. Pull quotes in both the art and the endnotes add further insight and inspiration.

Timely and stirring. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984831-97-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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