Best read in addition to watching the video, this piece represents an important moment in U.S. history.

READ REVIEW

THE PRESIDENT SANG AMAZING GRACE

Mulford’s song about the tragic church shooting in Charleston in 2015 is transformed into a picture book.

The rhyming lyrics are simple, describing how a stranger came to a house of worship and was “let…in,” though “he was not friend, he was not kin.” The stranger “seemed to pray” but then he “drew a gun / and killed nine people, old and young.” On this spread, white text contrasts with an all-black painted background. President Barack Obama’s appearance with the community of mourners is then pictured with the chorus: “no words could say what must be said / for all the living and the dead // So on that day and in that place / the president sang Amazing Grace.” The painted pictures, with tones of blue, black, and purple, move from the church to a montage of clasped hands, a crowd of mourners, various pictures of Obama, and a spread showing each of the nine victims. The song can be found online, and its performance is deeply moving; in the video, the lyrics and paintings are a stunning combination, making this book seem like a great idea. Without the music though, the book lacks the soulfulness of the video, and the unfinished look of the static paintings is not nearly so effective. Endnotes describe each contributor’s relationship to the work (including performer Joan Baez and filmmaker Rick Litvin) and contain a QR code to access the video; endpapers provide sheet music.

Best read in addition to watching the video, this piece represents an important moment in U.S. history. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-944903-84-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

ROSA PARKS

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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There’s not much beyond the razzle-dazzle, but it’s got that in spades.

ROAR

A DINOSAUR TOUR

Intense hues light up a prehistoric parade.

It’s really all about the colors. The endpapers are twinned head-shot galleries captioned, in the front, with scientific names (“Tyrannosaurus rex”) and pronunciations and, in the rear, translations of same (“Tyrant Lizard King”). In between, Paul marches 18 labeled dinos—mostly one type per page or spread, all flat, white-eyed silhouettes posed (with occasional exceptions) facing the same way against inconspicuously stylized background. The text runs toward the trite: “Some dinosaurs were fast… / and other dinosaurs were slow.” But inspired by the fact that we know very little about how dinosaurs were decorated (according to a brief author’s note), Paul makes each page turn a visual flash. Going for saturated hues and vivid contrasts rather than complex patterns, he sets red-orange spikes like flames along the back of a mottled aquamarine Kentrosaurus, places a small purple-blue Compsognathus beneath a towering Supersaurus that glows like a blown ember, pairs a Giganotosaurus’ toothy head and crest in similarly lambent shades to a spotted green body, and outfits the rest of his cast in like finery. “Today you can see their bones at the museum,” he abruptly, inadequately, and simplistically concludes.

There’s not much beyond the razzle-dazzle, but it’s got that in spades. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6698-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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