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Showing posts from February, 2020

WOKE: A YOUNG POET'S CALL TO JUSTICE by Mahogany Browne, with Elzabeth Acevedo & Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, foreword by Jason Reynolds, 56 pp, RL 4

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WOKE: A YOUNG POET'S CALL TO JUSTICE Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood illustrated by Theodore Taylor III Foreword by Jason Reynolds Review Copy from Roaring Brook Press WOKE: A YOUNG POET'S CALL TO JUSTICE  is a gift to the world, especially those of us who are just waking up. Jason Reynolds begins this collection with a poem and a piece about the freedom to talk back, citing his mother who encouraged him to talk back, with respect and conviction and a voice she could hear, "'cross the room / 'cross the world / over all this noise." To Reynolds' mother, justice is the freedom to talk back, to use your own voice and that is exactly what Reynolds tells readers - "the future poets" - to do. With her introduction, Browne gives readers a clear definition of the idea of WOKE, writing, "To be WOKE is to understand that equality and justice for some is not equality and justice at all. We must ask hard qu

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

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    What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?  The Story of Extraordinary  Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton , illustrated by Ekua Holmes Purchased with grant funding for my school library What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan is a picture book biography of the first African American woman elected to the Texas Senate and the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. Born in 1936 in Houston, Texas, Jordan attended Phillis Wheatley High School where a visit from lawyer Edith Sampson inspired her future.  An unforgettable public speaker with a powerful voice, Jordan first ran for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives at age twenty-six and lost. In 1964, she ran and lost again, finally winning a seat in 1966. During the impeachment trial of President Nixon, millions of television viewers watched Jordan state her belief in the judiciary committee, th

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

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The Stuff of Stars  by Marion Dane Bauer ,  illustrated by Ekua Holmes Review Copy from Candlewick Press With powerfully poetic free verse, Bauer tells the story of the creation of the universe, the earth and a child. A speck floats in the "deep, deep dark,"yet there was "yet not time, / there was yet no space. / No up, / no down, / no edge, / no center." There was no "Earth with soaring hawks," no you, no me. And then, "the beginning / of the beginning / of all beginnings / went / BANG!" As Bauer's well chosen words draw readers into and across the story, Holmes's hand-marbled, paper collage  illustrations swirl with emptiness then burst into the fullness of everything. Reading The Stuff of Stars is an immersive, intense experience, the words and images are so perfectly paired. Holmes's choice of colors is organic and earthy, vibrant and atmospheric, with Bauer's careful evocation of creatures, from bluebirds and

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer,  Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement  by Carole Boston Weatherford ,  illustrated by Ekua Holmes Library copy purchased with district funds Written in free verse poetry and peppered with quotes from Fannie Lou Hamer, Weatherford and Holmes give readers a much needed addition to the narrow shelves of biographies of civil rights leaders, populated mostly by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Weatherford and Holmes chronicle a harsh childhood shaped by extreme poverty. Hamer was one of twenty children of sharecroppers who could never get ahead, a white neighbor poisoning the livestock her father managed to buy. But Hamer was loved by her family and spoiled by her mother, who taught her to "respect yourself as a Black child, and as you get older, you respect yourself as a Black woman. If you respect yourself enough, other people will have to respect you."  Hamer experienced an equally harsh adult life plagued by the

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentoworth, 56 pp, RL 4 illustrated by Ekua Holmes,

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Out of Wonder:  Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth illustrated by Ekua Holmes Purchased for my school library with grant funds Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets is a globally diverse, vividly illustrated,  superb collection of poetic tributes. Pablo Neruda, Bashō, Rumi, Chief Dan George, Judith Wright and Okot p'Bitek represent ancient and foreign language poets as well as poets from different eras, places and cultures, it is the collection of American poets, especially BIPOC poets, that makes this book a stand out. Back matter gives readers the opportunity to learn more about the poets being celebrated. As a young reader (and even, I'm embarrassed to admit, as a college student) I never read the preface of a book. As an adult, especially if I am reading a children's book, I always read the preface and the back matter. I recognize now how the preface guides and informs - and often inspires, the back

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson, foreword by Ashley Bryan, 96 pp, RL 4

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We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by  Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson foreword by Ashley Bryan Purchased with grant funding for my school library Thirty years ago, Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson were parents seeking books that reflected the diversity of Black history, heritage and experiences. Unable to find any, they started Just Us Books , now a leader in multicultural publishing and one of the few Black-owned publishers in the U.S. In their introduction to We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices , the write about growing up in the segregated South among the discrimination, prejudice and hatred against African Americans that made their life difficult and often dangerous. They also write,  The segregated but unequal system  we were forced to endure was extremely trying and often frightening. Yet, in our all-Black communities, we were embraced by accepting arms, motivated by encouraging words, and sheltered by watchful eyes that probed for s

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, illustrations by Geneva B,160 pp, RL 3

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Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott illustrations by Geneva B Review Copy from Random House Children's Books This is the review I want to write, followed by the review I have to write. As Jaxon and his mother stand outside the door of the mean old lady his mama calls "Ma," there is tension and sadness. Their landlord has turned off the water and gas and is forcing Jaxon and his mother out of their Brooklyn apartment. Alicia needs a place for Jax to be while she tries to work it out and Ma is her last resort, for reasons Jax will soon find out.  Ma has been sent three dragon hatchlings that she needs to deliver to a more magical realm immediately - feeding the hungry babies will make them grow and there is not enough magic in New York City to sustain the trio. Given a choice, Jax decides to accompany and aid Ma as needed and the two head into Prospect Park and to what appears to be the smallest castle Jax has ever seen. Stepping into this portal to ot