In spite of flaws, the poignant longing for freedom shines through.

THE WALL & THE WIND

A young girl seems to lead an idyllic life somewhere in post–World War II Eastern Europe.

Happy in her rural home and safe in the care of a loving family, the girl longs to extend her reach and uses her art to create an imagined world that she can visit in her dreams. The narrative shifts suddenly, and the girl is now in East Berlin in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, her dreams unfulfilled, her person trapped and unable to leave. How many years have passed and what happened in the interim are never explained. The narrative jumps ahead 30 more years, and the protagonist is a mother with a young son when the Berlin Wall finally crumbles. She and her little boy take a brave leap and end up in Newfoundland, where they can build a new life in the crisp, wild wind of a rugged land with beauty of its own. The author’s note reveals it’s her own story, narrated in descriptive, emotional language. Illustrations employ rich tones and deep textures conveying both her beloved homeland and her beautiful adopted home while the dreariness and despair of East Berlin are seen in dull grays, khakis, and browns. It is a powerful tale, but there are significant stumbles in its telling. As well as wondering at huge chunks of missing time and events, young readers might believe that Canada is next door to Berlin. The note provides some clarifying information.

In spite of flaws, the poignant longing for freedom shines through. (Picture book/memoir. 5-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-927917-32-9

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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 lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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