Barry Wittenstein’s Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sony Rollins Finds His Groove

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

Isabel Sanchez Vegara’s Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (Little People, Big Dreams)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.

Coming August 2019: Gwendolyn Hooks’ Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons

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