Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance

Nikki Grimes. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-68119-944-3

In this expansive introduction to Harlem Renaissance women poets, Grimes utilizes the Golden Shovel poetry technique, which Terrance Hayes conceived in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, wherein one takes “a short poem in its entirety, or a line from the poem... to create a new poem using the words from the original.” The result is a thoroughly contemporary, compassionate collection in three parts (“Heritage,” “Earth Mother,” and “Taking Notice,”) that juxtaposes the work of poets—including Mae V. Cowdery, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Esther Popel—with Grimes’s innovative feminist remixes. Acclaimed Black women artists—such as Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Cozbi Cabrera, and Vashti Harrison—illustrate, making for an abundantly layered landscape of Black female experiences. Front matter includes a preface and introductions to the Harlem Renaissance and the poetic form; back matter includes an author’s note, poet biographies, sources, and an index. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Lewis Latimer: Engineering Wizard (VIP)

Denise Lewis Patrick, illus. by Daniel Duncan. HarperCollins, $15.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-06-288966-9

wis Howard Latimer—scientist, inventor, poet, artist, and the son of escaped slaves.” Born free in Massachusetts as the last of four children, Lewis worked odd jobs to help support the family, eventually becoming a draftsman; assisted Alexander Graham Bell with the patent drawings for the telephone; worked at the Edison Company; and fought for Black lives and equality. Patrick’s prose is clear and engaging (“He thought that freedom for black people would mean equal treatment, too”); supplementary asides provide overviews of contextual historical events and figures, including “African American Soldiers in the Civil War” and “Better, Faster, Safer: Other Nineteenth-Century Inventors,” while ample black-and-white comic-style art by Duncan presents an accessible entry point for young readers. This joint series starter (with Dr. Mae Jemison: Brave Rocketeer) offers a comprehensive introduction to a Black pioneer whose work is often overlooked. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Stompin’ at the Savoy: How Chick Webb Became the King of Drums

Moira Rose Donohue, illus. by Laura Freeman. Sleeping Bear, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5341-1097-7

Colorfully accentuated onomatopoeia and musical notes punctuate this profile of brilliant self-taught drummer William “Chick” Webb. Born in early-20th-century East Baltimore with spinal tuberculosis, Webb’s lifelong back pain was exacerbated after a childhood fall down the stairs, which resulted in “a hunched back” and, due to his resultant walking style, the nickname “Chicken.” After a surgery, the doctor recommended drumming to strengthen Webb’s arms; after fashioning drumsticks out of spoons, Webb earned real ones by selling newspapers, eventually creating a swing band with Ella Fitzgerald at the helm. Freeman’s bright digital illustrations add energy to the narrative, which reaches its apogee as 4’1” Chick takes on the over-six-feet-tall Benny Goodman in a battle of the bands at the integrated Savoy Ballroom in 1937. Donohue largely elides any racial discrimination Webb may have faced, focusing instead on his musicality and physicality. Back matter features a section called “More about Chick,” which concludes with a brief author’s note. Ages 7–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The ABCs of Black History

Rio Cortez, illus. By Lauren Semmer. Workman, $14.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-5235-0749-8

Poet Cortez pens an informative ode to Black history in her children’s book debut—for each letter of this abecedarian, she offers lightly alliterative, rhyming text that illuminates historically significant concepts and figures. C, for example, covers community and church, continuing, “Did you hear Reverend King preach on his dream/ of civil rights, human rights, a powerful theme?” Bold digital illustrations by Semmer evoke cut-paper collage, featuring Black figures with a range of skin tones and hairstyles against colorful and patterned backgrounds. A particularly resonant spread shows a crowd holding signs that reflect both historical and current events, including “We March with Selma” and “We Can’t Breathe,” demonstrating to young readers how past occurrences affect the present. A richly accessible resource for anyone seeking to celebrate Black visionaries. Front matter includes additional resources; back matter includes definitions, further explanations, and biographical details behind each entry. Ages 5–up. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
We Wait for the Sun

Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe, illus. by Raissa Figueroa. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-22902-1

Adapted from U.S. attorney Roundtree’s 2019 adult autobiography, Mighty Justice, which was cowritten with McCabe, this posthumous picture book spotlights one of Roundtree’s favorite midsummer memories: harvesting blackberries before dawn with her beloved grandmother, who “imbued her with the certainty of her self-worth.” Thoughtful imagery lush with sensory detail (“her hand as it grazes a bush and comes back with the first berry of the day, frosted with dew”) pairs seamlessly with atmospheric, luminous digital illustrations by Figueroa as young Roundtree walks through the dark with Grandma Rachel, seeking berries with fellow Black women. This is a poignant glimpse into the childhood of a storied civil rights luminary, simultaneously serving as a testament to the love between caretaker and child and a soothing, nature-based meditation. Back matter includes a powerful author’s note, biographical information on both Roundtree and her maternal grandmother, a timeline of their lives, and a bibliography. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon, and a Lifelong Mission

Katherine Johnson, with Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore, illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. National Geographic, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4263-7193-6

Famed Black NASA “human computer” Johnson is joined by two of her daughters in this familial autobiography, which parallels Johnson’s life with her children’s. In an honest, conversational tone, Johnson tells of facing segregation and sexism as a Black woman in an overwhelmingly white male environment (“There were things you could count—steps, plates, musical beats—and things you could count on.... But you could also count on life being hard”). She also describes her daughters following in her footsteps (becoming educators and a NASA mathematician), showing how her pioneering steps paved the way for the next generation. Engaging, collage-style art augments the text, with speech bubbles, archival family photographs, and Barlow’s child-friendly illustrations. Concurrently accessible and intimate, this book will both inform readers and inspire them to reach for the stars. Back matter includes historical notes and context, a timeline, a glossary, and an illustrator’s note. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

Alicia D. Williams, illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1913-1

Newbery Honoree Williams crafts distinctive prose evoking Black folktales from the American South in this picture book biography of Zora Neale Hurston, “a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitos to skin.” In colloquial and figurative language (“She spooned out Eatonville trickster tales to whoever’d sop ’em up”), Williams centers Hurston’s love of storytelling, following her life from her childhood spent listening to tales on a general store porch and her mother’s early encouragement to “jump at de sun,” to being evicted at age 14 by her stepmother, enrolling in high school at age 26, writing during the Harlem Renaissance, and “collect[ing] Negro folklore” around the world. Alcántara matches Williams’s skillful narrative with fluid, atmospheric art that uses speech bubbles to add further dimension. A lively, joyfully rendered portrait of a literary legend. Back matter includes an author’s note, additional reading, and sources. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy

Kekla Magoon, illus. by Laura Freeman. Quill Tree, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-291251-0

Magoon and Freeman team up to present this overview of the life of Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, covering his early-20th-century childhood in segregated Baltimore, his persistent fight against segregation, his initiation as the first Black member of the Supreme Court in 1967, and his death in 1993. Magoon employs a measured tone throughout, emphasizing Marshall’s concern with fairness alongside plenty of biographical details, including his two marriages, the second of which defied anti-miscegenation laws. Freeman’s layered digital illustrations enrich the narrative. One memorable spread shows a subtly hued time-lapse of Marshall presenting “seven important cases before the Supreme Court,” which centers Marshall by depicting the court from behind a row of unidentifiable seated white men. Compelling paragraphs make this an appealing read about a Black figure who had a large and lasting impact on U.S. law. Back matter contains a timeline, major court cases, further reading, and a bibliography. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge

Ray Anthony Shepard, illus. by Keith Mallett. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30704-2

In a stunning picture book debut, historian Shepard pens a free verse poem addressing Ona Judge, a young Black woman who emancipated herself from George and Martha Washing-ton’s ownership. Born to an enslaved Black seamstress and a white indentured servant, Ona grew up conscripted as a playmate for the Washingtons’ grandchildren until she was taken from her mother at age 16 and made a personal servant to Martha Washington. Employing the refrain “Why you run Ona Judge?” Shepard crafts impactful metaphors (“You were his money walking out the door”) and incisive questions, exposing the fallacy of Ona’s “good” treatment by conveying the inherent dehumanization that she and other enslaved people experienced. Tonal paintings by Mallett incorporate fabric collage, lending a sense of both immediacy and historicity. An evocative portrait that keenly interrogates the structures upon which America is built. Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, acknowledgments, and list of places to visit. Ages 3–6. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
While I Was Away

Waka T. Brown. Quill Tree, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-301711-5

Brown’s debut explores an experience of having one foot in two cultures in an age-appropriate memoir. When she was 12, Brown’s Japanese-born parents decided to send her to live with her grandmother—Obaasama—in Tokyo for five months. Brown, the first in her family to be born in America, is upset by the prospect of leaving her Kansas friends behind—and attending Japanese school—for more than an entire summer. Once in Japan, however, Brown slowly begins to find her footing, including shared interests—Twix candy bars—with her brusque grandmother. Obaasama, widowed young, maintains the same hard exterior that she employed in raising her own nine children, and Brown learns that Obaasama’s own abusive father—who once burned Obaasama with a branding iron—informed her grandmother’s toughcaretaking style. The text is peppered with Japanese words as well as hiragana, katakana, and kanji, for which Brown explains alphabet and character differences. This personal story offers readers a glimpse at Japanese and American cultural differences while stressing that what makes things different is also what makes them unique. Ages 14–up. Agent: Penny Moore and Erin Files, Aevitas Creative Management. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.