A deserved celebration of a famous Tewa potter who elevated her craft to fine art.

SHAPED BY HER HANDS

POTTER MARIA MARTINEZ

From the She Made History series

Born around 1887, Maria Martinez became one of the greatest Native artists of all time.

This story of a young girl from San Ildefonso Pueblo, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, celebrates the strong sense of culture and identity the Tewa people have maintained through the centuries. Intrigued by her people’s traditions, young Maria would rather fashion clay pots than play with straw dolls, but every time she makes one, it breaks apart while drying in the sun. Seeing her niece’s dedication, her aunt teaches Maria how to mix the clay with volcanic ash and water before coiling it between her hands to bake in an open fire. What evolves from these lessons is a young child’s sense of pride in her cultural history as well as the rediscovery of a technique long forgotten by her people. From New York to San Francisco, Maria becomes famous for her signature pottery style, making her name synonymous with excellence and value in the pottery world. Aphelandra, who has Oneida heritage, paints with the hues of the Rio Grande’s turquoise waters, orange pottery fires, pink sandstone sunsets, and the obsidian black clay of Maria’s pots; the result is earthy and elemental, containing the spirit of the New Mexican landscape. The characters are depicted in their traditional Tewa clothing and hairstyles, encompassing multiple generations of the artists’ family in a way that strikes upon the legacy she both received and left behind.

A deserved celebration of a famous Tewa potter who elevated her craft to fine art. (biographical note, historical note, authors’ note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7599-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

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. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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