A wild ride through an impressive bit of history.

FEARLESS MARY

THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF MARY FIELDS, AMERICAN STAGECOACH DRIVER

Mary Fields, a woman and former slave, breaks barriers working as a stagecoach driver in 1895.

Telegraphs and trains bring supplies and messages to Cascade, Montana, but to get through the mountains to St. Peter’s Mission requires a stagecoach. The stagecoach driver also acts as guard against outlaws and wild animals; one needs to be “smart, tough, unshakable.…Mary Fields is all of those things.” Of course, no one believes that a woman, much less a former slave, can do this job. But Mary is determined to show the hiring manager that she can outperform any of the male candidates. She shows off her skills, and she gets the job, the first black woman in the country to do so. With her map- and star-reading skills, her trained eagle, her long gun, her courage, and her determination, Mary rides for eight years, into her 70s. Her bravery is remembered in Cascade, and now young readers can be inspired by it too. Charles does a fine job of shaping a suspenseful story from few historical details, inventing some dialogue and rearranging the timeline a bit, as she describes in her author’s note. From the moment Mary rides into town, readers will be hooked. The illustrations, in hues of brown, green, and blue, successfully evoke the small, Western town and the mountains; the humans and animals have faces that display an animation aesthetic.

A wild ride through an impressive bit of history. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2305-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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