The co-authors struggle with only limited success to bring a variety of memorable stories of Hindu mythology together into...

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KATHA SAGAR, OCEAN OF STORIES

HINDU WISDOM FOR EVERY AGE

Lakshmi, a pauranika (trained storyteller versed in the ancient Hindu epics), lives in a village in southern India and narrates legends and folk tales from various Hindu epics to its children.

Text boxes tinged with gray describe Lakshmi’s contemporary daily life. Interspersed on white-backgrounded pages are the stories she tells: authentic adaptions of well-known tales from Hindu mythology depicting the values, traditions, and culture of ancient India. These include a lively variety of gods and asuras (demons), fearless warriors, wise sages, arrogant kings, and clever children. Although the connections from story to story are bumpy, resulting in a fragmented feel, Lakshmi passes on life values, moral messages, and spiritual instruction as she recounts the drama of various incarnations of the gods and the constant fight of good against evil. A few full-page color illustrations authentically depict the dark-skinned heroes and villains of these stories, and a small, color illustration brightens the start of every new chapter. Some unfamiliar aspects of Hindu culture and society, such as the caste system that found Dalits at the bottom, and churning yogurt into butter by hand, are briefly explained. However, while some stories have distinct, easy-to-comprehend morals, others rely on an understanding of the concepts and philosophy of Hinduism that may be beyond a child audience.

The co-authors struggle with only limited success to bring a variety of memorable stories of Hindu mythology together into one cohesive tale. (authors’ note, story notes and sources, glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55896-776-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Skinner House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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LET IT SHINE

STORIES OF BLACK WOMEN FREEDOM FIGHTERS

This exciting collective biography features ten important women in the historic struggle to win freedom and civil rights. Pinkney (Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, 1998, etc.) tells the well-known stories of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks. Other women such as Biddy Mason and Dorothy Irene Height are in the history books but are less familiar. They span the 18th and 19th centuries, from Sojourner Truth, born into slavery circa 1797, to Shirley Chisholm, born in 1924 and living today. Each story contains essential demographic and biographical information written in an accessible, informal style, which provides a vivid picture of the women’s lives, their personalities, backgrounds, and the actions that made them memorable. Many of the women also had to fight against prejudice toward women in addition to their causes. Some did not live to see the results of their struggle, but successful or not, all were courageous leaders who paved the way for a more democratic and inclusive America. The introduction gives the reader a glimpse into Pinkney’s own life and her rationale for the selection of biographies. A bibliography for further reading lists what are probably her research sources, but are not identified as such and quotations within the chapters are not footnoted in any way. Another quibble is a small mistake in the biography of Dorothy Irene Height as to the two degrees she received in four years. Both were in educational psychology, but Pinkney lists the bachelor’s as in social work. However, these flaws do not compromise the value of the book. Alcorn’s (Langston Hughes, not reviewed, etc.) paintings, oil on canvas, are as magnificent as his figures and add much to this handsome volume. Vibrant colors, rhythmic lines, and collage-like compositions are allegorical in design and convey the essence of each woman and her work. A truly inspiring collection for personal as well as institutional libraries. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201005-X

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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Provocative reading for anyone concerned about the intersection of race and capital punishment.

KILLING WITH PREJUDICE

INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM IN AMERICAN CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

The story of the Supreme Court decision McCleskey v. Kemp (1987), which underscores “the lingering racial and socioeconomic inequalities endemic to capital punishment in the United States.”

In 1978 in Atlanta, Georgia, Warren McCleskey, an African-American, was arrested for killing a white police officer during a furniture store robbery. After years of litigation, writes Maratea (The Politics of the Internet: Political Claims-making in Cyberspace and How It’s Affecting Modern Political Activism, 2014, etc.), his death penalty sentencing was upheld by the Supreme Court in a decision that overlooked “compelling empirical data suggesting that Georgia’s death process was replete with systemic racial bias.” McCleskey was executed in 1991. In this thoughtful and disturbing account, the author traces the story of the case. He argues not that McCleskey was innocent but that he was sentenced to death under a system in which killers of white people were four times more likely as killers of blacks to be sentenced to death. The latter assertion, made by McCleskey’s lawyers, was based on a “detailed and peer-reviewed” study of 2,500 Georgia murder cases by University of Iowa law professor David C. Baldus. He concluded that all individuals convicted of murdering whites were far more likely to receive the death penalty. In its 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the defense failed to show evidence of deliberate bias by law officials and dismissed the data on disparities in sentencing as inevitable in the criminal justice system. Noting that the decision “affirmed institutionalized racial disparities” in the capital punishment system, Maratea examines the force of “old habits of mind and racial attitudes” going back to the Civil War era. He finds that “capital punishment has borne a close resemblance to lynching in Georgia, where more extralegal executions of black Americans occurred than in any other state.” As lynchings declined in the 20th-century South, “the infliction of the death penalty by the courts increased,” according to historian William S. McFeely.

Provocative reading for anyone concerned about the intersection of race and capital punishment.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4798-8860-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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