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

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

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

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. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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