A daughter’s proud but overwrought tribute to her father and his parents.

MALCOLM LITTLE

THE BOY WHO GREW UP TO BECOME MALCOLM X

The childhood of the controversial African-American activist was shaped by parental love and white racism.

Writing with the fervor and intensity of a motivational speaker, Shabazz recounts her father’s early years, which were filled with the loving support and teachings of his parents as well as the hate and destruction of the Ku Klux Klan. His mother nurtured a love of learning and nature, and his father—a follower of Marcus Garvey—taught him self-pride before being murdered by the KKK. Shabazz concentrates her lengthy text on her father’s youth; she writes about his racist English teacher but does not mention his imprisonment, work for Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam or conversion to Islam anywhere in the text or in her three-page author’s note. With the passion of a preacher, she celebrates love, respect, tolerance and education without restraint, producing an overwritten text laced with an excess of flowery images. In a description of the garden that Malcolm’s mother shared with her children, she writes that it “was a testament to true and unconditional brotherhood from the earth on up to the sky, a daily lesson in acceptance and equality.” Ford’s oil paintings, framed on the page, are lush and filled with detail.

A daughter’s proud but overwrought tribute to her father and his parents. (Picture book/ biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1216-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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