An excellent depiction of a life lived with purpose.

A kid-lit powerhouse team delivers a warm tribute to a civil rights icon known for making good trouble.

John Lewis grew up in segregated Troy, Alabama, raised by sharecropper parents who worked hard but had little to show for it. What his family did provide was love in abundance. Lewis’ desire for education often took a back seat to the needs of the farm, but he read whatever was available. As a teen, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preach on the radio, and he was moved by King’s commitment to “truth and justice.” While in seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, Lewis connected with others working for justice through nonviolence and prepared to protest segregation. Challenging the status quo was difficult, and the students were attacked verbally and physically, even being arrested for purported disorderly conduct. But he persevered in the face of violence and even threats to his life; the book closes with Lewis leading protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. This eloquent biography makes clear that Lewis’ activism was grounded in the love and faith that surrounded him from an early age. Cline-Ransome’s clear, age-appropriate language conveys Lewis’ determination, while Ransome’s compelling illustrations, done with found paper, pencil drawings, and paint, perfectly complement the narrative. The use of vivid, patterned textures gives the book a homey, intimate feeling; Lewis’ life and work will feel immediate and deeply personal to readers.

An excellent depiction of a life lived with purpose. (author’s note, timeline, photographs, quote sources, selected bibliography) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 9781534496620

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023


A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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