Powerful, moving, necessary.

SO TALL WITHIN

SOJOURNER TRUTH'S LONG WALK TOWARD FREEDOM

The life and work of Sojourner Truth are detailed in this lyrical picture book by Schmidt (Martín de Porres, illustrated by David Diaz, 2012).

The book begins “In Slavery Time, when Hope was a seed waiting to be planted.” Most of Isabella’s brothers and sisters were sold away before she could remember, but her mother told her that the same moon and stars looked down upon them all. Then Isabella was sold and separated from her mother. She was made to work hard, then made to marry, then promised freedom but not granted it, so finally she “seized Freedom with her own hands.” Her son was sold away from her, and she used the law to get him back. After reuniting with some of her own siblings, she decided to make “a journey—a sojourn—to tell the truth about Slavery.” Schmidt details the states she stopped in and quotes words she used to speak her truth. (The bibliography describes the manuscript from which her words are quoted.) The poetic text highlights her inner journey, giving readers not just a strong historical figure, but a human being in insufferable circumstances, a feat not often accomplished in books for young readers, particularly about enslaved people. Minter’s art is emotional and haunting, with colors of blue and auburn, near-transparent silhouettes, faces that have seen too much, and nature looking on. The art itself tells stories of stolen childhood, torn families, and finding purpose.

Powerful, moving, necessary. (biographical note, artist’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-872-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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