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Reviews of the 2019 CSK Illustrator Award winners

Winner

The Stuff of Stars
by Marion Dane Bauer; illus. by Ekua Holmes
Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.
9/18    978-0-7636-7883-8    $17.99

From darkness, we experience the Big Bang, the birth of the universe, and the emergence of life on Earth. Holmes, known for her striking collage art (Voice of Freedom, rev. 9/15; Out of Wonder, rev. 5/17) breathes life and depth into Bauer’s ambitious poem, with a new look: marbled paper. On some spreads, the marbling serves as a semi-abstract representation, while on others it is combined with Holmes’s familiar collages, with representational shapes subtly emerging from the mottled background. We proceed to dinosaurs, which then give way to other animals and to humans. Bauer’s switch to direct address (“Waiting / waiting… / Until at last, / YOU burst into the world”) accompanies the realization that a small white speck seen in earlier illustrations is, in fact, the child listener. By book’s end, we see an adult and child together: “You, / and me / loving you. / All of us / the stuff of stars.” Will younger children understand the scale of this text? More likely, they will just take it on faith and be mesmerized by the remarkable art by Holmes, one of the most thoughtful interpreters of poetry working in children’s books today. LOLLY ROBINSON

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 

Honor Books

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly; illus. by Laura Freeman
Primary     Harper/HarperCollins     40 pp.
1/18     978-0-06-274246-9     $17.99

With Winifred Conkling. A serviceable introduction to four African American women mathematicians who, despite discrimination, played vital roles for the U.S. in the 1960s space race. Although the illustrations are static, their rich, saturated colors provide interest. Shetterly’s (author of the adult title, the basis for the movie) text barely scratches the surface of the women’s stories, but she strives admirably to place their accomplishments within historical context. Timeline. Glos. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO

From the Fall 2018 issue of The Horn Book Guide.

Let the Children March
by Monica Clark-Robinson; illus. by Frank Morrison
Primary     Houghton     40 pp.     g
1/18     978-0-544-70452-7     $16.99

For nearly a week in racially charged 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, hundreds of young people under the age of eighteen joined the Children’s Crusade and were harassed, beaten, and thrown in jail for their nonviolent protests against segregation. In a picture book based on these events, an unnamed girl takes readers through the African American community’s difficult decision to undertake the march, and the harrowing journey that followed. The decision to let the children march wasn’t an easy one for the adults to make. But as Martin Luther King Jr. said, it was ultimately agreed that the children were “doing a job for not only themselves, but for all of America and all mankind.” We follow the young girl as she marches in the face of hatred, with “Courage by [her] side”; witnesses her fellow marchers being attacked by dogs; and is jailed. She emerges to the news that desegregation will finally begin in Birmingham. A strong, poetic text (“We heard that the next day, and / the next, more kids marched. / The water hoses they used to sting us / could not stop our fierce tide”) is accompanied by remarkable oil paintings that capture the emotions on the faces of protesters and counter-protesters alike. While the last page hints at a rather rushed optimism about racial harmony, the art throughout is a vibrant representation of the determination and courage of the civil rights movement. A nuanced account that could inspire the youngest readers to make a big difference. Appended with an afterword, source notes, a timeline, and a brief bibliography. EBONI NJOKU

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968
by Alice Faye Dunca; illus. by R. Gregory Christie
Primary     Boyds/Calkins     40 pp.
8/18     978-1-62979-718-2     $17.95

The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike is not often covered in picture books, despite it being Dr. King’s final march before his assassination. In a poignant mix of poetry and prose, fictional child Lorraine Jackson shares her family’s story of resistance as she helped her sanitation-worker father fight for fair wages and safer working conditions. Christie’s rich gouache paintings illustrate the honest portrayal of an intense historical moment. Timeline. Bib. MONIQUE HARRIS

From the Spring 2019 issue of The Horn Book Guide.

 

For more, click on the tag ALA Midwinter 2019.

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