Barry Wittenstein’s Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove (2019) takes readers on a stroll through New York City that begins at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. The picture book manages to be both intimate and expansive. Although a biography of jazz great Sonny Rollins, his story is deeply contextualized within cultural and political history. Keith Mallett’s illustrations capture mood and motion, each a work of art that brings the story to life. Continue reading
Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Story Teller Pura Belpré (2019), is an exceptional biography of New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. In addition to accessibly and inventively capturing Pura’s story, the book provides a window into US history. It is also a timely tale of Arts-based activism that speaks to ongoing struggles to secure equal access to cultural representation. Continue reading
Mahatma Gandhi, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Albert Arrayas, will be available from Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s on April 30, 2019. It is part of their Little People, Big Dreams series.
Arrayas’ captivating illustrations add a sense of whimsy to this picture book biography of Gandhi, a man deeply invested in justice. Continue reading
As the mother of a four-year-old who attends a Montessori school, I was excited to see this accessible biography about Maria Montessori! Dr. Montessori developed a pedagogical approach that empowered students to take control of their environments and their behaviors while simultaneously foregrounding the importance of community. This short biography, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Raquel Martin, introduces students to the work of this remarkable woman from early experiences that prompted her to pursue teaching to her activist work that provide children with developmental disabilities agency and improved life chances. This is a wonderful book, great for parents and educators interested in introducing young children to strong and impactful women! Continue reading
Muhammad Ali, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Brosmind is an inspiring addition to Frances Lincoln Children’s Books’ Little People, BIG DREAMS series. The short and accessible biography takes readers on a fast-paced and informative journey into the life of famous boxer Muhammad Ali. In addition to his boxing fame, the board book acknowledges Ali’s civil rights activism, conversion to Islam, refusal to fight in Vietnam, and post-retirement charity work. Like other books in the series, Muhammad Ali, provides enough detail to be engaging without overwhelming its young audience. I recommend this book for children between 2- and 5-years-old. This will make a valuable addition to personal and school libraries.
Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom, written by Gwendolyn Hooks and illustrated by Simone Agoussoye, tells the story of a young enslaved woman who succeeded in escaping slavery, even though she was fleeing from the first president of the United States of America, George Washington.
Hooks is unflinching in her depiction of slavery, and weaves Ona’s personal story into the larger national story of enslaved blacks in America. Hooks explains that enslaved blacks had to work for no pay in conditions that provided no autonomy or dignity. She also notes that many children were sold away from siblings and parents. Continue reading