The richness of this book’s words and images will inspire readers to learn more about this holiday that never should have...

ALL DIFFERENT NOW

JUNETEENTH, THE FIRST DAY OF FREEDOM

Johnson tells a tale of Juneteenth in Texas through the eyes of a child, while Lewis’ earth-toned watercolor illustrations capture the quotidian aspects of the way of life emancipation ended.

The young female speaker who lives and works on the plantation with her mother, siblings and others takes personally the titular phrase, “all different now,” when freedom comes. Just before the Union general announces on the balcony of the big house that the slaves are “now and forever free,” rumors of this news has spread so quickly from the port to the countryside that Lewis includes an image with four vertical panels showing slaves engaged in many different types of work, passing the word and responding with surprise, shock and praise to the news. The historical details that Lewis integrates into the images situate Johnson’s story historically and give young readers a sense of what cotton plantations in the mid-1860s looked like. In the backmatter, Johnson makes clear why this bit of history matters to her, and Lewis shares the impossibility of contemporary Americans’ reaching a true understanding of the lives of 19th-century slaves—but how important it is to try.

The richness of this book’s words and images will inspire readers to learn more about this holiday that never should have been necessary…but was. (Web resources, glossary) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-689-87376-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote.

VOTE FOR OUR FUTURE!

The children of fictional Stanton Elementary School educate themselves and their community about the vote in this picture book.

With its illustrations of simple shapes in bright colors imbuing a sense of positive action and a diverse cast of characters, this picture book rocks—and that’s even before the narrative takes hold. When Stanton’s students learn that their school becomes a polling station every two years, they want to be part of it—but learn they can’t vote until they are 18. Undeterred, they take action. The kids do their research and then engage their community to encourage those of voting age to go to the polls. They go door to door with voter-guide pamphlets, they hold a bake sale (with clever reminders like “Donut forget to vote”), and remind their families to vote. Each child-empowering scenario is paired with an adult’s excuse (“I’ll be away”; “I’m not even registered”; “I can’t walk so far”), and with each comment, the kids have an answer that draws on their research: “You can vote by mail”; “It’s not hard to register”; “A volunteer can drive you!” These kids mean business; it’s their future after all. Children and adults depicted represent a range of skin colors, hair textures, and gender presentations; one girl and her aunt wear hijab. Backmatter includes a quick listing of kid-relevant federal legislation.

Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9280-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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