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Essential reading for any and all future (and current) freedom fighters.

A biography of Ghana’s first prime minister and the story of his country’s road to independence.

The book opens with Kwame Nkrumah gazing at the British Union Jack while waiting alongside thousands of spectators. The Adinkra symbol for fawohodie (independence) is patterned into the blue of Nkrumah’s shirt and also in the stands that hold the crowd waiting to see, at the stroke of midnight, the joyous raising of the red, yellow, and green flag with a black star embedded in the center, the flag of a sovereign Ghana. Nkrumah’s proclamation, “And thus Ghana, your beloved country is free forever,” helps introduce the story of a tenacious man who fought for and gained freedom for his homeland. Illustrations of Nkrumah speaking, learning, and listening at various stages of his life are intentional and bold, chronicling the journey of an activist determined to speak out against British imperialism. Freeman uses bright colors and prints to find focus in her artwork. In one double-page spread a shadowed profile of Nkrumah is positioned opposite an image of the African continent rendered in different kente patterns, Nkrumah’s powerful words linking Ghana’s freedom with the liberation of all African countries from colonialism. Thoughtful backmatter that includes a timeline of Nkrumah’s life and accomplishments shows the care poured into sharing the words and works of a leader dedicated to his country and his people.

Essential reading for any and all future (and current) freedom fighters. (author's note, glossary of Adinkra symbols) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-940975-86-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Just Us Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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