A story well worth sharing.

SPROUTING WINGS

THE TRUE STORY OF JAMES HERMAN BANNING, THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN PILOT TO FLY ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

Black pilot James Herman Banning makes history with a cross-country flight in 1932.

Banner wanted wings from the time he was a child. He read widely as a child and young man, and he attended college for one year—as one of only seven Black students accepted—but was forced to leave for financial reasons. As he opened a mechanic shop, he continued to dream of flying. But no flight schools would take on a Black student. One day, a pilot came into his shop with a motorcycle, and Banning asked him for lessons. This time, the answer was yes. Banning finally got his chance to learn to fly. He earned his pilot’s license and continued teaching himself. He moved to California to teach at a new aviation school for Black men and women. Then he set out to pursue a new dream: to fly from Los Angeles to Long Island. With a partner, a cobbled-together airplane, and the support of many, both individuals and whole communities where they stopped on the way, Banning achieved this goal. Long paragraphs of text on each spread detail dates and locations of the duo’s flight. The level of detail provided makes this book suitable for older readers, particularly those interested in flight. Cooper’s softly painted artwork creates a lovely period feel to complement the story. Banning’s determination in overcoming obstacles is impressive, and the realistic ways in which supporters and refusers influenced his path paint an accurate portrait of the United States. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67.5% of actual size.)

A story well worth sharing. (note, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984847-62-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

MORE THAN PEACH

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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