Sam Bloom

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Review of Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader by Michelle Duster; illus. by Laura FreemanPrimary, Intermediate    Godwin/Holt    40 pp.    g1/22    978-1-250-23946-4    $18.99A picture-book biography of an iconic journalist and civil rights leader deserves an opening line befitting its subject, and this one delivers: “Some people...

Review of Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas

Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illus. by Loveis Wise Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp.    g 2/22    978-0-06-302189-1    $18.99 This superb picture-book biography profiles Alma Thomas (1891–1978), the first Black woman to have art displayed in the White House’s permanent collection. After a childhood...

Review of Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Mara Rockliff; illus. by R. Gregory Christie Primary, Intermediate    Random House Studio    40 pp.    g 1/22    978-1-5247-2064-3    $18.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-2065-0    $21.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-2066-7    $11.99 Rockliff and Christie focus their story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on a little-heralded...

Review of Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd; illus. by Christian Robinson Primary, Intermediate    Putnam    64 pp.    g 9/21    978-0-06-291564-1    $19.99 Pianist, singer, and composer Nina ­Simone was born Eunice Waymon in rural North Carolina in 1933, a child “who had music on the inside.” Treated by turns...

Review of Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley; illus. by Tara Audibert Primary    Heartdrum/HarperCollins    80 pp.    g 5/21    978-0-06-301537-1    $15.99 Paper ed.  978-0-06-301538-8    $4.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-301539-5    $4.99 This series opener introduces Jo Jo Makoons Azure, a rambunctious first grader with “strong lungs” (according to her mom) and...

Review of The People's Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art

The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art by Cynthia Levinson; illus. by Evan Turk Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    48 pp.    g 4/21    978-1-4197-4130-2    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-64700-320-3    $15.54 Ben Shahn (1898–1969) was known as “the people’s painter” because his art told real stories about real people. Levinson...

Big Machines

Each fall, as award season heats up and the Interwebs start buzzing with kid-book love, we all should revisit Vicky Smith’s “Reader, Know Thyself.” Originally posted at Heavy Medal in September 2013, Vicky's essay encourages readers to understand and respect their genre preferences in the context of award consideration: “Are you, as...

Du Iz Tak?

Have you seen Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis’s oversized gouache and ink spreads are impressive to be sure, but it's her ear for entomological dialogue that shines in this one; well, I’ll let you be the judge. Not to give too much away, but at the emotional climax (***spoiler alert*** when...

Review of The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoesby Duncan Tonatiuh; 
illus. by the authorPrimary    Abrams    40 pp.10/16    978-1-4197-2130-4    $16.95After a string of award-winning picture-book biographies (Separate Is Never Equal, rev. 7/14; Funny Bones, rev. 11/15), Tonatiuh turns to folklore for this adapted pourquoi story that explains the origins...
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