Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Laura Freeman


Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice 

by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Laura Freeman

Review copy from Atheneum

Using Eve, a first grader going to school in Oakland, CA, and her frustration with a boy who told her she couldn't be president as a framework for this biography, Grimes does a superb job capturing and distilling the forces, influences, experiences and decisions that shaped Harris as a young person, propelling her along a path of service that has lead, so far, to the office of Vice President of the United States. Grimes, a poet, starts Harris's story with the meaning of her name - Kamala, the Sanskrit name for the lotus, a flower with deep roots. Harris's roots, stretching from Oakland to India and Jamaica, grew from parents dedicated to fighting for freedom and justice for BIPOC in America. 

Stories from Harris's childhood make her relatable to young readers while also showing how she coped with change, like her family squeezing "into a different shape" after her parents divorce, and failure, like failing to pass the California Bar on her first attempt. Also noted, Harris's many firsts: first female District Attorney of San Francisco, first Black woman Attorney General of California, second Black woman voted to the US Senate (with Harris becoming the first woman Vice President, there are now no Black women in the Senate) and second Black woman to run for President, after Shirley Chisholm. Freeman's digital illustrations capture Harris's expressive character, putting her front and center on most pages. 

Published in August of 2020, the edition I reviewed ends with Harris giving up her run for the 2020 presidential nomination and accepting Biden's invitation to be his running mate.

Kamala Harris's niece, Meena Harris, is (besides being a Stanford and Harvard Law School graduate, lawyer, CEO and founder of PHENOMENAL WOMAN, and mom) a children's book author! Her first book, Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, is about an experience her mother and aunt had as children, organizing their friends, working hard and raising money to create a playground in their neighborhood.

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