RUBY’S WISH

In her debut effort, Bridges tells the story of her grandmother’s unique place in Chinese history. Even in a wealthy household, being a young girl in China meant that education was something of a dream, but luckily Ruby’s grandfather had a special place in his heart for his hard-working and talented granddaughter. Making his fortune in the California Gold Rush, one man returned to China to start a household full of wives and children and soon grandchildren. Even when the people in the household numbered over 100, it was easy to spot little Ruby in the group. Red was her favorite color and even when she was instructed to wear more traditionally colored clothing, Ruby insisted in twisting red ribbons into her dark hair. An enlightened man, the grandfather offered education to both boys and girls of the household and Ruby thrived. However, a poem that she wrote convinced her grandfather that perhaps he was not being completely equitable with his progeny. On what she believed to be her last New Year’s Day as an unmarried woman, her grandfather presented her with a letter saying that she had received admission as one of the first women at a university. Softly colored, Asian-inspired gouache illustrations accompany this tale of one little girl’s dream to become more than was traditionally possible. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8118-3490-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.

BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR

A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own.

In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy’s text describes what “Black is” physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as “the braids in my best friend’s hair,” to the conceptual: “Black is soft-singing, ‘Hush now, don’t explain’ ”—a reference to the song “Don’t Explain” made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, and “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-631-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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THAT BOOK WOMAN

Young Cal lives high in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. Sister Lark keeps her nose in a book nearly from daybreak to dusty dark. Cal’s a mite suspicious—and more than a mite resentful—of this, as he spends most of his time helping Pap with chores. One day, he spies a sorrel mare clippity-clopping slowly up the mountain; the rider’s not a man neither, but a lady wearing britches! She carries a passel of books in her saddle packs; all the family (exceptin’ Cal) welcomes her warmly. Back she comes several times a year, no matter how bad the weather. This causes Cal to wonder why she’s so dedicated, and he asks Lark to help him learn to read. By the time the Pack Horse Librarian appears again, she’s made another convert. Small’s illustrations, combining ink, watercolor and chalk, add an appropriately earthy warmth, complementing the precise prose beautifully. Every line oozes character: The hound dog’s ears flop like nobody’s business, and Cal’s face in the foreground displays every emotion as he moves from scowling suspicion to wonder. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-0812-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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