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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the National Parks of the USA series , Vol. 4

A glorious monument to the national monuments.

The national monuments get their due.

Walker briefly recounts the history of the monuments (thank you, Teddy Roosevelt). Instead of the usual glossy photos, the text is paired with copious subtle watercolors, harmoniously arrayed with text on generous double-page spreads. Sparkling descriptions invite reader participation: “Imagine it’s 1892, and you’re arriving” in New York Harbor. “What will you see in the [pipestone] rocks?” Many monuments are in sites of superb natural beauty, but unlike the national parks, they must have historical, prehistorical, cultural, and/or scientific interest. Readers will find information on dinosaur fossils, geology, flora and fauna, and places important to Indigenous people, significant in history (Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Stonewall National Monument, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument), and/or connected to American leaders like Cesar Chavez. Fascinating facts are interspersed (the Washington Monument is held together through friction and gravity rather than mortar; the Pullman workers’ 1894 strike helped establish Labor Day). Regional maps throughout indicate the locations of the various monuments, divided by area: East, Central, Southwest, Mountain West, West, Alaska, and Tropics. A calm, subdued palette and geometric-based forms that use washes rather than line allow for a maximum of information without fussiness and, with help from typography, evoke classic WPA posters.

A glorious monument to the national monuments. (index) (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780711265493

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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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.

“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. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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