Compelling, delicate, and spare, this book brings both artist and garden to life.

THE SECRET KINGDOM

NEK CHAND, A CHANGING INDIA, AND A HIDDEN WORLD OF ART

Rosenstock weaves the story of folk artist Nek Chand Saini and the magnificent secret garden he built in Chandigarh, India.

Now spread over 40 acres and open to the public since 1976, Nek Chand’s Rock Garden is a world of palaces, temples, and villages, showcasing over 5,000 creative sculptures of people, animals, and whimsical creatures, all made from discarded industrial items and household articles. The spare, lyrical text brings forth the stories that Nek Chand grew up with and evokes the village that stayed with him long after he and his family had to flee during the Partition of India in 1947, “walking for twenty-four days across the new border into India. Nek carried only village stories in his broken heart.” When his garden, built illegally on government ground, was discovered and threatened with destruction, the people of Chandigarh rallied, preserving both his job and the garden. Nivola’s delicate and detailed watercolor-and-gouache illustrations feature people with dark hair and skin of different shades of brown. They show authentic snippets of pre-Partition village life as well as the surreal landscape he built; these are complemented by a double gatefold of photos of the actual garden. There is no glossary, but most of the few Punjabi words in the text are easily assumed from the context. Readers may wish for maps of India and the garden.

Compelling, delicate, and spare, this book brings both artist and garden to life. (bibliography, author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7475-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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