A one-time read for most, but a worthy addition to the reference shelf.

KAMALA HARRIS

ROOTED IN JUSTICE

Eve, a young black girl from Oakland, wants to be president one day, and her mother tells her all about Kamala Harris to show that it is possible.

The story’s opening, closing, and occasional exchanges between Eve and her mom are italicized while the lengthy narration of Kamala’s life is not. The latter begins with the meaning of her name and her parents’ origins in Jamaica and India before they met in Oakland, Kamala’s birthplace. Densely packed lines of free-verse text trace her biography, scenes detailing the settings that made Kamala who she is, including the marches her parents attended, the school to which she was bused, the cultural center she frequented after school, her matriculation at a historically black college, and her career beyond law school, with the two penultimate spreads briefly covering her presidential run through the ending of her campaign. The brightly colored illustrations offer memorable moments for listeners to linger over while the extensive text is read aloud (few children will sustain interest in the story to read it independently to the end). Eve’s story frame seems useful in the beginning, but it peters out midway through to become an awkward add-on to this in-depth biography, potentially confusing readers. Despite some weaknesses in its execution, this thorough portrait of the background and hard work that brought this biracial, black woman to her campaign for the presidency is worth sharing with children. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 61% of actual size.)

A one-time read for most, but a worthy addition to the reference shelf. (timeline, sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6267-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life.

STITCH BY STITCH

ELIZABETH HOBBS KECKLY SEWS HER WAY TO FREEDOM

Schofield-Morrison fashions a poignant tribute to the remarkable life and craft of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hobbs Keckly, a formerly enslaved woman who broke the color line in haute couture.

In straightforward prose seamlessly woven through with excerpts from Keckly’s 1868 autobiography, the text traces Keckly’s unlikely journey from a slave plantation to the White House. Born enslaved in Virginia in 1818, she survived a childhood of unutterable cruelty but set her mind to learning the craft of sewing from her mother. Sent by her master to work for a White tailor without pay, Keckly endured further hardships, but her talent and toil eventually earned her a clientele of affluent women. After purchasing freedom for herself and her son, she went on to become a successful businesswoman, highly sought-after tailoress, and trendsetting fashionista, even serving as the official dresser for first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Zunon’s breathtaking and masterful mixed-media illustrations—incorporating oil, paint, fabric, ribbon, paper, embroidery, and appliqué—beautifully capture the artistry of Keckly’s dresses.

A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life. (author’s note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3963-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Inspirational but occasionally unclear.

JUST LIKE ME

Gooding's debut profiles 40 famous people with disabilities.

The author, a mother of children with disabilities, opens the book with a note about her desire to find role models for her children. To that end, she alphabetically introduces racially diverse disabled people from around the world and throughout history. Diagnoses range from autism to limb difference. Historical figures include Japanese peace advocate Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima, and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who led fellow slaves to freedom despite epilepsy. Contemporary figures include athletes, authors, and entertainers: Polio survivor and Paralympian Malathi Krishnamurthy-Holla remains "one of the fastest female Indian athletes in a wheelchair"; Japanese nonverbal author Naoki Higashida penned popular books describing autism; English actor Daniel Radcliffe deals with dyspraxia, a coordination disorder; and Australian Madeline Stuart is the first professional model with Down syndrome. Each profile begins with an uplifting quote and concludes with a sidebar explaining the subject’s disability. Unfortunately, some sidebars emphasize colloquial over scientific terms. For instance, Stephen Hawking’s disability is named eponymously (Lou Gehrig's disease), “also known as ALS,” instead of with its scientific name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Occasionally, vague phrasing creates confusion, such as when the author writes that a speech-generating device enabled Hawking to communicate by using a “touchpad.” (A hand clicker became his primary input method.) Various illustrators’ realistic renditions of smiling subjects complement the upbeat (albeit somewhat dry) text.

Inspirational but occasionally unclear. (glossary, quote sources) (Collective biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78741-848-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Bonnier/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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