Tuesday, February 22, 2022

OVERGROUND RAILROAD: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor. New York: Amulet Books, 2022.  254p. ISBN 978-141974949-0 hc. $22.99     Gr. 6-8   Juv 970.980

It's hard to put this book down after reading the Introduction recalling the personal experience of a black family being stopped by the police, while driving through Tennessee on vacation in the 1950's.  Racial prejudice was so prevalent in the United States that it wasn't safe for black drivers on the road.  Luckily, Victor H. Green came to the rescue with a book titled, THE NEGRO MOTORIST GREEN-BOOK that listed safe havens for blacks traveling around the country.  There were other travel guides also available, but this one was published from 1936 to 1962.  Taylor illuminates readers with photographs postcards, and pages from the original Green Books.  The stories are eye-opening, as they reveal a piece of history unknown to many.  An impressive bibliography of resources and photos close out the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

WISHES by Muon Thi Van. Illus. by Victo Ngai. New York: Orchard Books, 2021. 32p. ISBN 978-133830589-0 hc. $18.99    Gr. 1-4    E PIC

Strap down your emotions, as this story is based on the author's journey from Viet Nam to Hong King to the United States when she was a child in the 1980's.  Every sentence, except for the last one, repeats the pattern,  "The ____ wishes it was ____."  The illustrator makes those sentences come to life by creating the scenarios that almost wordlessly tell the tale of secretly gathering family members for a journey to safety in another country.  But there is nothing safe about the nightime trip to the seashore and the power of the waves that rocked the small, crowded boat.  Despite the sadness conveyed in the illustrations, there is beauty and hope for the future.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

WE SHALL OVERCOME by Bryan Collier.  New York: Orchard Books, 2021.  32p.  ISBN 978-133854037-56 hc. $18.99    Gr. 1-5    E PIC

Collier brings the famous words of a Civil Rights protest song to life with his signature watercolor and collage creations that cover the page from top to bottom, side to side.  He presents a timeline of landmark Civil Rights events in shades of gray behind the present day figures enjoying the freedoms their predecessors fought for.  Readers will recognize the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Rosa Parks sitting down on a bus, and the National Guard protecting students at the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School, all taking place in the 1950's and 1960's. This book is packed with information, emotion, and pure beauty.  Collier has received multiple Coretta Scott King awards for illustration and four Caldecott Honors for MARTIN'S BIG WORDS by Doreen Rapapport (2001), ROSA by Nikki Giovanni (2005), DAVE THE POTTER by Dave Carrick Hill (2010), and TROMBONE SHORTY by Troy Andrews (2015).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

UNSPEAKABLE: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Floyd Cooper.  Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 2021. 32p. ISBN 978-154158120-3 hc. $17.99   Gr. 2-5   J 976.686

Even though this remarkable tale begins with, "once upon a time," it is a true story buried in time.  The community of Greenwood, on the edge of Tulsa, Oklahoma was divided by train tracks into a white section and a black district.  The black community had a thriving economy from long-term oil investments and was nicknamed the "Negro Wall Street of America," providing good jobs for families and good education for their children.  A single incident between a black worker and a white elevator operator brought both communities to blows on May 31, 1921.  Enraged white citizens raided and burned businesses and homes, killing blacks along the way.  The National Guard arrived the following day and moved homeless residents into camps until they could rebuild or move on.  This incident was swept under the rug for 75 years before it was investigated or made known to the American public.  Most readers are just learning of it recently, as the number of publications on the subject has swelled to commemorate its 100th anniversary.  The Author's Note and Illustrator's Note provide further insight into this tragedy. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI