Michelle Martin

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The Camping Trip

“People in cities don’t understand / falling in love with the land.” So goes a line from one of my favorite Girl Scout songs, “Moon on the Meadow.” Jennifer K. Mann’s picture book The Camping Trip takes protagonist and narrator Ernestine from being one of those “people in cities” to getting her first taste...

Review of The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    56 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-5362-0736-1    $17.99 City-dweller Ernestine has never been camping, but when Aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha invite her, she gets her dad’s okay and starts preparing: new flashlight and sleeping bag, a homemade batch...

Five questions for Alice Faye Duncan

Alice Faye Duncan’s picture book Just like a Mama (Millner/Simon, 3–7 years), illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, explores the special bond between a young girl and her “right now” caretaker Mama Rose, who is “just like a mama to me.” The story was inspired by Duncan’s own family and is...

Review of Just like a Mama

Just like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan; illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow Preschool, Primary    Millner/Simon    32 pp. 1/20    978-1-5344-6183-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6184-0    $10.99 An homage to all the African American women who are mothering children not biologically their own. Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose because “Mommy...

Review of Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Elizabeth Zunon Preschool    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    32 pp.    g 1/20    978-1-4926-3832-2    $17.99 Grimes puts an animal-centric spin on a youngster’s innovations for bedtime stalling. This lushly illustrated story, on double-page spreads full of bold, saturated color, opens with an African American child’s...

Review of Astro Girl

Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp. 9/19    978-1-5362-0946-4    $16.99 As young Astrid gazes out her bedroom window at the stars, using a hand-held telescope, we see visual evidence of her astronomy obsession all around: a helmet, model rocket ship, etc. The straightforward...

Going Down Home with Daddy

Going Down Home with Daddy's back cover boldly announces, “Nothing is more important than family.” It's a palpable sentiment throughout the story. A Black family of four wakes before dawn to pack the car for a trip “down home” to Daddy’s family reunion, an event they surely attend regularly. During the drive,...

Black Kids Camp, Too...Don't They?: Embracing "Wildness" in Picture Books

My mother was a Girl Scout leader, my father was a Boy Scout leader, and my brother was a Tiger Cub in the Boy Scouts. Practically from the time I could walk, I tagged along with family to scout meetings and events. When I became a Girl Scout, and eventually...

Review of Hands Up!

Hands Up!by Breanna J. McDaniel; illus. by Shane W. EvansPreschool, Primary    Dial    32 pp.    g1/19    978-0-525-55231-4    $17.99 In this affirmation of self-love for children of color, an exuberant brown-skinned girl recounts many situations in which she puts her “hands up”: playing peek-a-boo as a very young child, then, as she gets...

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