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

FLYING COLORS

A GUIDE TO FLAGS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

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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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.

THE ABCS OF BLACK HISTORY

An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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With powerful art from a bold new talent, this is a probing and sensitive take on a devastating chapter of U.S. history.

AN AMERICAN STORY

“How do you tell a story / that starts in Africa / and ends in horror?”

Alexander uses multiple voices to weave this poem about a teacher who takes on the difficult but necessary task of starting a classroom conversation about slavery. Between the theft of people from the African continent and the sale of people in America, from the ships that brought them and the ocean that swallowed some of them to their uncompensated work and the breakup of families, Alexander introduces objections from the implied listeners (“But you can’t sell people,” “That’s not fair”), despair from the narrating adult, encouragement from the youth, and ultimately an answer to the repeated question about how to tell this story. Rising star Coulter’s mixed-media art elevates the lyrical text with clarity and deep emotion: Using sculpted forms and paintings for the historical figures gives them a unique texture and lifelike fullness, while the charcoal drawings on yellow paper used for the present-day student-teacher interactions invite readers to step inside. Where Coulter combines the two, connecting past with present, the effect is stunning. Both young readers and adults unsure of how to talk about this painful past with children will find valuable insights.

With powerful art from a bold new talent, this is a probing and sensitive take on a devastating chapter of U.S. history. (author’s and illustrator’s notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-47312-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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