Cel­e­brate Black His­tory in pic­tures for kids

In honor of Black His­tory Month, Eliot Schre­fer rec­om­mends four pic­ture books for young read­ers that cel­e­brate the lives of black peo­ple across the globe.

Chicago Sun-Times - - TODAY’S TOP STORIES - Eliot Schre­fer’s lat­est book for young read­ers is Spirit An­i­mals: Im­mor­tal Guardians.

TWO FRIENDS: SU­SAN B. AN­THONY AND FRED­ER­ICK DOU­GLASS Writ­ten by Dean Rob­bins, il­lus­trated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko Orchard Books/Scholas­tic, 32 pp., ages 4-8

The stylish Two Friends (out of four) imag­ines the meet­ing be­tween two great pro­gres­sive minds of the 19th cen­tury. When writer/ora­tor Fred­er­ick Dou­glass joins abo­li­tion­ist Su­san B. An­thony at her home for tea, he learns of her fight­ing an ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem that doesn’t grant equal ac­cess to women, and in turn re­counts the hard­ship of his en­slaved child­hood. The two ac­tivists share a goal: ex­pand­ing the right to vote. Given such weighty ma­te­rial, Two Friends is re­mark­ably light on its feet, the com­po­si­tion of the pages lively and dy­namic and the political fig­ures ren­dered with high-beam charm. The book takes the time to note what the char­ac­ters are wear­ing, wisely in­dulging kids’ in­ter­ests in both the su­per­fi­cial and the political.

MAR­VELOUS COR­NELIUS: HUR­RI­CANE KA­T­RINA AND THE SPIRIT OF NEW OR­LEANS Writ­ten by Phil Bild­ner, il­lus­trated by John Parra Chron­i­cle Books, 44 pp., ages 5-8

The hero­ics of a street cleaner— what a re­fresh­ing topic. Phil Bild­ner re­counts the true story of Cor­nelius Wash­ing­ton ( eeeg), “a wizard of trash cans” famed in New Or­leans for singing and danc­ing while he worked. When one day a storm comes and “the great city filled with wa­ter,” Cor­nelius sets out on his most daunting task yet— help­ing his beloved city rise again from “a gumbo of mush and mud” af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina. Th­ese pages have a folk-art feel, down to the quilted im­ages that open and close the tale. Some kids will fall for Cor­nelius’ big garbage truck, oth­ers will adore his fey and dancerly poses. Still oth­ers will love the lan­guage it­self: “The old ladies whis­tled and whirled. / The old men hooted and hollered. / The bar­bers, bead twirlers, and / beignet bak­ers bounded be­hind / the one­man pa­rade.”

LAST STOP ON MAR­KET STREET Writ­ten by Matt De La Peña, il­lus­trated by Chris­tian Robin­son Put­nam Books for Young Read­ers, 32 pp., ages 3-5

It’s been quite a year for Last Stop on Mar­ket Street ( eeee): It won the New­bery Medal for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. It’s not hard to see why. This story of a young boy tak­ing a bus trip with his grand­mother cap­tures the di­ver­sity of peo­ple on ev­ery­day city streets. Though CJ com­plains that they have to take the bus, and that he doesn’t have an MP3 player like other boys, his nana teaches him that feel­ing im­pov­er­ished is more about out­look than ma­te­rial wealth. “He won­dered how his nana al­ways found beau­ti­ful / where he never even thought to look.” The sur­prise desti­na­tion of the­morn­ing’s bus trip will please kids, as will the wealth of vis­ual de­tails con­tained in the vivid and blocky il­lus­tra­tions. A gen­er­ous and in­clu­sive re­minder about count­ing one’s bless­ings.

THE GIRL WHO BURIED HER DREAMS IN A CAN Writ­ten by Dr. Ter­erai Trent, il­lus­trated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist Vik­ing Books for Young Read­ers, 40 pp., ages 6-8

The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can ( eee) re­counts the au­thor’s own story, be­gin­ning with her girl­hood in ru­ral Rhode­sia (now Zim­babwe), where she was told that education was hatigone— for­bid­den. She is com­mit­ted to learn­ing, though, and con­vinces her brother to teach her to read. When op­por­tu­nity for proper school­ing comes, she seizes it and even­tu­ally moves to the USA, where she earns mul­ti­ple de­grees be­fore re­turn­ing to help ed­u­cate the chil­dren of her birth­place. Trent’s story is an em­pow­er­ing model for chil­dren, but the book might be a tough go for some of them— the wa­ter­col­ors beau­ti­fully il­lus­trate the text but don’t move the nar­ra­tive for­ward, mak­ing for an overly stately pace. That said, chil­dren who de­vote their at­ten­tion here will be in­spired by this tale of a stead­fast girl from Rhode­sia who changed the world.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.