cover image Holding Her Own: The Exceptional Life of Jackie Ormes

Holding Her Own: The Exceptional Life of Jackie Ormes

Traci N. Todd, illus. by Shannon Wright. Orchard, $21.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-30590-6

This biography of Jackie Ormes (1911–1985), born Zelda Jackson outside of Pittsburgh, follows her arc toward becoming the first nationally syndicated Black woman cartoonist, spanning her childhood in an artistic household and her time as a rhetorically gifted sports reporter relegated to the “women’s activities” pages of renowned Black-owned newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier. Soon, though, she fords the funny pages of that publication with a successful comic strip called Torchy Brown, taking inspiration from both the paper’s stories and “the jump and jive of Harlem.” After WWII, Jackie joins the fight for civil rights in her own way: raising money and creating comic character Patty-Jo, who both speaks to wide-ranging social concerns and is designed “to make people smile.” Todd’s reportorial text hints at Ormes’s journalist beginnings and quick wit, while Wright’s paneled illustrations alternate between images of the subject and spreads that follow her maturing art style. Ages 7–10. (Jan.)