A timely read about an NBA player who spoke out against Jim Crow injustice.

ABOVE THE RIM

HOW ELGIN BAYLOR CHANGED BASKETBALL

A new generation of fans will be introduced to the legendary basketball player Elgin Baylor.

Elgin Baylor experienced many barriers on his path to NBA success. He grew up in World War II–era Washington, D.C., in a time of segregated playgrounds and a general lack of access to public basketball equipment. Even when he became a prominent player for his all-Black high school’s basketball team, local colleges would not allow him admission because they “wanted ‘whites only.’ ” Yet Baylor persevered to become a professional basketball player during the height of the civil rights movement, snapshots of which are interleaved with the primary narrative: the Montgomery bus boycott, the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, a sit-in at a Wichita lunch counter. With Baylor’s story, Bryant and Morrison demonstrate that NBA players have a long history of speaking (or, in Baylor’s case, sitting) out against injustices in society. Bryant’s spare, emphatic text relates how Baylor’s Minneapolis Lakers were affected by Jim Crow and how his protest led to a change in NBA policy. Morrison’s vibrant paintings emphasize Baylor’s lithe athleticism, elongated arms and legs extending balletically. An author’s note contextualizes Baylor’s story, including the perhaps-surprising information that in his day, basketball was not nearly as popular as it is today. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 40.1% of actual size.)

A timely read about an NBA player who spoke out against Jim Crow injustice. (further reading, notes, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4108-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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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