A halting misuse of page space that, in the end, finally presents Kennedy’s speech in the proper light.

A roundabout history of President John F. Kennedy’s June 11, 1963, address on American civil rights.

Corey starts this story of Kennedy’s speech, and the context under which it was delivered, early—too early—in Kennedy’s life. Readers learn that his brother was his father’s favorite and that he was sickly. They also learn that he came from wealth, but Corey doesn’t take this opportunity to discuss class in America and how it impinges on racism. Instead, readers learn he was a courageous soldier in World War II and wrote Profiles in Courage. The writing is choppy, perhaps in an effort to be punchy: “In 1946, Jack ran for Congress. His whole family helped. His father gave money and advice. His mother and sisters gave teas.” By midbook, Corey begins to focus in on Kennedy’s political conundrum. When it comes to Kennedy’s dallying on the civil rights issue, Corey does hit a number of nails squarely on the head: Kennedy was being upstaged by children on their crusade, he was losing the African-American vote, he played politics with Congress. Still, the speech was historic, as the book implies, and the author’s note elaborates upon this. Christie’s illustrations show a good, moody application of radiant paint and a sharp caricaturist’s touch.

A halting misuse of page space that, in the end, finally presents Kennedy’s speech in the proper light. (thumbnail bios of civil rights figures, bibliography, sources, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4275-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015


            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999