This loving tribute is a generous introduction to a figure worth knowing.

SONNY ROLLINS PLAYS THE BRIDGE

Jazz legend Sonny Rollins finds a place to play his saxophone in the open air.

He can’t play in his apartment because of the neighbors. So he walks down the street, listening to “that / small voice / inside / which says / you need to do this / even if / everyone / wonders / WHY?” He climbs to the walkway at the top of the Bridge (always capitalized, along with the River it “strides”) and, all alone, with just the sounds of the train and the tugboats and the sea gulls as accompaniment, he blows and blows his horn. The harmony represented on the page between the “giant jazzman” and the “giant Bridge” is also reflected in the harmony between the poetic text and the artistic images: Both show an African American man who finds peace on his own terms, in his own space, doing what he is meant to do. Endnotes describe Sonny Rollins’ career, including his unusual hiatus from the jazz scene, the history of the Williamsburg Bridge where he practiced, and the living legend’s words, which are a testament to his character. As usual, Ransome’s illustrations convey character, mood, and setting to great effect, matching the spare, effective text with energy and vibrancy that tempt readers to seek out Rollins’ sound. This meditation on music, art, and integrity offers inspiration and food for thought.

This loving tribute is a generous introduction to a figure worth knowing. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1366-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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