Overall, a solid choice for first-time biography readers.

MADAM SPEAKER

NANCY PELOSI CALLS THE HOUSE TO ORDER

A short, admiring biography, punctuated with quotations from Pelosi and accompanied by simple, stylized art.

The initial double-page spread shows little Nancy D’Alesandro stuffing envelopes for one of her father’s political campaigns. (He served both in Congress and as Baltimore’s mayor.) A framed family portrait—including Nancy’s five older brothers—sits beneath a quotation in which she lists her family’s allegiances to Catholicism, patriotism, Italian American pride, and the Democratic Party. The text is accessible and clever, as in its assertion that Nancy and her brothers “looked up” to portraits of past presidents and also “never looked down on those who needed a hand up.” As the text reveals her passage from youth into adulthood, it suggests that Pelosi learned about leadership from her father and from nuns at her college prep school. Pelosi’s own words add motherhood to her leadership training. This and other well-chosen quotations show her cleareyed understanding from an early age of gender-based power dynamics. The text follows her further education; her marriage and swift plunge into raising five children; her congressional work in support of LGBTQ+ rights and the Affordable Care Act; her record-breaking eight hours of speech to protect DACA recipients. The art includes mostly benevolent-looking people of varied racial presentations; the text barely suggests political discord but unabashedly highlights Pelosi’s Democratic victories. It’s possible that even children of Republicans will be inspired by the ending.

Overall, a solid choice for first-time biography readers. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1189-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Despite choruses praising Ride’s persistence, her life is inexplicably portrayed as lacking struggle.

SALLY RIDE

From the She Persisted series

Sally Ride: from tennis-playing schoolgirl through astronaut and educator to entrepreneur.

Sally Ride stars in this entry to the chapter-book series spun off from Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger’s picture book She Persisted (2017). Long before she becomes the first woman to go to space, Sally is an athlete, a White girl born in California in 1951. She’s a tennis whiz but an inconsistent scholar, attending a prestigious private school on an athletic scholarship. Though the narrative a little ostentatiously tells readers that “Sally persisted,” the youth presented here—a child who rolls her eyes at boring teachers, a college student who drops out to play tennis, an excellent tennis player who “just did not enjoy” the effort of becoming a professional—shows the opposite. Sexism is alluded to, but no barriers are portrayed as blocking young Sally herself. Though her amazing achievements aren’t downplayed, the groundbreaking Sally Ride, in this telling, becomes simply someone who applied for a job and excelled once she liked what she was doing. Sally’s partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, is mentioned as such, but the text avoids using any pronouns for O’Shaughnessy, which, along with her gender-neutral name, may leave many young readers ignorant that Ride silently broke sexuality barriers as well.

Despite choruses praising Ride’s persistence, her life is inexplicably portrayed as lacking struggle. (reading list, websites) (Biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11592-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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