Expanding the understanding of equal rights in the classroom is sadly timely, and this helps to fill in an early part of the...

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THE FIRST STEP

HOW ONE GIRL PUT SEGREGATION ON TRIAL

A 19th-century chapter in the ongoing struggle for school integration.

When Sarah Roberts was thrown out of her all-white Boston elementary school in 1847, her parents fought back through the courts. Robert Morris, an African-American attorney, and Charles Sumner, a white attorney, joined forces to argue the case before Massachusetts judges. Those judges ruled in favor of segregated schools, but Sarah’s father turned to public opinion and legislation, eventually winning the right for his daughter and all others to attend integrated neighborhood schools. Goodman goes on to briefly enumerate the difficulties that would still be faced in the long fight for equal opportunity education, culminating in the more famous case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. It’s too bad that acknowledgment of Boston’s 1970s-era school-integration battles is relegated to a timeline along with other dismaying post-Brown integration facts. Lewis’ watercolor-and-gouache paintings portray the faces of the family, the courtroom scenes, and 19th-century Boston with delicacy and atmosphere. The concluding double-page–spread vista of a sailing ship docked near a modern skyscraper, albeit quite lovely, is out of place.

Expanding the understanding of equal rights in the classroom is sadly timely, and this helps to fill in an early part of the picture. (afterword, sources and resources, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3739-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Young readers will recognize Suds as one of their own and will gladly follow him to fourth grade. Sweet and funny.

THIRD GRADE ANGELS

Suds Morton is not yet a “Fourth Grade Rat.” In this prequel to Spinelli's 1991 standby, he is a year younger and, according to his school’s traditional chant, he aspires to the sobriquet of “Third Grade Angel.”

When his teacher announces her intention of rewarding angelic behavior with a halo, Suds decides he wants to be the first angel. Between his cool new friend Joey, his wise mom and a little conclusion-jumping, he comes up with a plan. But, of course, his results are just a little off-kilter. Suds, nicknamed for his preference for calming soaks in bubble baths when he gets “chipmunky,” needs all the help he can get to deal with the various disasters and tribulations that threaten to overwhelm him. Along with the angel chase there’s a pesky little sister, a fifth-grade bully and total rejection by the girl he adores. Spinelli doesn’t miss a beat in recreating the characters from the earlier work and never reveals any hint of Suds’ fourth-grade future. He lets readers into Suds’ 8-year-old mind without condescension. His problems and concerns are treated comically but with genuine kindness. Suds is innocent, gullible and trusting; he is also entirely good-hearted.

Young readers will recognize Suds as one of their own and will gladly follow him to fourth grade. Sweet and funny. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-38772-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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