Black History Month, Cyblis Awards 2018, History

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

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Back of Book:
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations.. All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented and diverse, these extraordinary men and women’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream… whatever it may be.
My Review:
I was excited to read this book as a part of the Cybils Awards. It is a fantastic look at 52 African Americans who have made an impact on the world around them. It is an excellent resource to teach children about some of the bold, brave, and gifted men and women who have stood for equality and honor. I loved that the text covers heroes from our past like Harriet Tubman, but also discusses people who are making an impact now like Simone Biles. I appreciated the welcome note from the author and illustrator in the front of the book. I can tell that they put a great deal of thought and research into the men and women in this book. I can see using this book in class as an opening to many discussions involving, race, equality, history, and activism. The illustrations are appealing and vibrant. A great addition to any school library or classroom. I also see it as a great book for Black History Month.
Ages 8 and up
64 Pages

Biography, Black History Month

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 By Alice Faye Duncan

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Back of Book:
In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church.
My Review:
I revived a copy of this book from author Alice Faye Duncan in exchange for an honest review.
Run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore today and grab this amazing, haunting story about the Sanitation Shrike of 1968. Alice Faye Duncan took a historical event and brought it to life! The story follows a young girl as she watches her daddy stand up for what he believes in. The story is inspired by and teacher and her memories of participating in the strike when she was a child. The text is written using poetry. Each page holds a title with a verse. The illustrations are unique and rich in texture and color. The back of the book has a fantastic timeline as well as a list of museums that readers can visit. This is a perfect book to add to any Martin Luther King Jr. or history unit. It is a book that King himself would be happy to read.
Ages 9 and up
40 Pages

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Biography, Black History Month

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

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Back of Book:
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention and of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
My Review:
I was raised in the 90s so Super Soakers were apart of every summer. Everyone I knew had one. When I saw that there was a biography picture book about the man who invented them, I knew I needed it in my collection. I loved reading about the determination of Lonnie Johnson. The story begins with his childhood and ends with the invention of the soaker. It was fun to share this story with my students. They loved hearing about the creation of a toy that they all play with regularly. The illustrations are Don Tate and have beautiful images and detail. There is a note in the back of the book from the author about his interview with Lonnie Johnson. This is a great story to give to any readers who want to be inventors. I would also recommended adding this to all summer reading lists.
Ages 6 and up

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Black History Month

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

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Back of Book:
A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts!
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
She wanted to be an astronaut.
Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.

My Review:
This book is such an inspirational look at how Mae never gave up on her dream to go to space. Even when others doubted Mae she never gave up on what she wanted to be when she grew up. The writing of this text is beautiful and the message of never giving up is truly inspirational! The illustrations are warm and inspirational. I did not know very much about Mae before I read this picture book. I fell in love with her pure determination and strength. She is a historical figure that every young girl should learn about. The back of the book has a bio and resources on how to find out more information about Mae. A terrific story that should be in every library and classroom.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

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Black History Month

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal

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Back of Book:

As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland’s dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

My Review:

This is a truly lovely picture book Ann Cole Lowe. I love finding stories about the talented women who design such beautiful clothing. The text of this book is rich in history and tells the story of how strong and courageous Ann was. She faced hard work and prejudice people. She Finally in 1961 Ann received the recognition that she so deeply deserved. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and show the elegance of the dresses that she created. A great book to read for  

Ages 5 and up

40 Pages

Black History Month

Hey Black Child By Useni Eugene Perkins

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Back Book: Hey There Black Child
This lyrical, empowering poem celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

 

The poem written in this book was first written in 1975. The poem speaks directly to young African American children. The message is inspiring and tells about the strength that they possess. The poem tells readers that they are amazing and that can accomplish anything if they set their minds to it. The text is simple, but powerful. This is the kind of book that makes readers sit a little straighter and smile a little wider. The illustrations in this story are truly stunning. I love that there are illustrations alternate between both girls and boys. It shows readers that no matter what gender they are, they can accomplish their dreams. There are notes from the author and the illustrator in the back of the book. This is an excellent story to share during Black History Month.

Ages 5 and up

40 Pages

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Black History Month

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library By Carole Boston Weatherford

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Back of Book:

 

Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

 

My Review:

 

I have never heard of Schomburg but after reading this book, I realized that he played a very important role in history. This book is an extensive and well written biography about the man who built a library. I loved learning about the history that Schomburg researched. It opened my eyes to amazing men and women in history of African decent. Each page of this book discusses a different part of Schomburg’s life His thirst for knowledge was never ending. He spent his life collecting books, painting, and pamphlets that would help the rest of the word. This is one of those books that needs to be shared during Black History Month.

Ages 9 and up

48 Pages

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Black History Month

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race By Margot Lee Shetterly

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Back of Book:
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.
They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
My Review:
The first time I saw Hidden Figures I was fascinated by the four strong women who worked for NASA. When I learned that the author wrote a picture book I was so excited! This book does not disappoint. The book goes into the life of each of these four amazing women. Readers learn about the steps that each woman took to work at NASA. The back of the book has a timeline as well as a biography of each woman. The story is well written and very informational. The illustrations are vibrant and simply stunning! An absolutely needed addition to Black History Month reading lists.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

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Black History Month

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song by Debbie Levy

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Back of Book: It only takes a few words to create change. It only takes a few people to believe that change is possible. And when those people sing out, they can change the world. “We Shall Overcome” is one of their songs. From the song’s roots in America’s era of slavery through to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and today, “We Shall Overcome” has come to represent the fight for equality and freedom around the world. This important book, lyrically written by Debbie Levy and paired with elegant, collage-style art by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, pays tribute to the heroic spirit of the famous song that encompasses American history.
My Review:
I love that there are so many picture books to share with readers during Black History month. One of my favorites to share with my students is “We Shall Overcome” It is a touching story of the path that African Americans have taken to get to the place they are now. The story begins with the Civil War and ends with President Obama. Each period of history shows people singing the song We Shall Overcome. The back of the book has a timeline in which readers can see dates of when each event occurred. The illustrations in this story are lovely. Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a gifted artist. Her pictures of people are truly beautiful. This is a fantastic book to share in libraries and schools.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

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