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.

Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights

Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Kristy Caldwell. Peachtree, $18.99 (36p) ISBN 978-1-68263-136-2

Opening with an interactive framing device, this informative biography of the first female presidential cabinet member encourages young readers to appreciate the groundwork laid for modern American workers’ rights. Recounting Perkins’s upbringing and the ideals, about helping others, that she internalized, the narrative focuses on the figure’s radicalization after witnessing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and hearing a subsequent rousing speech by labor activist Rose Schneiderman. Organizing, then laboring to get bills passed, Perkins eventually becomes Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of Labor and works to establish Social Security. Digital illustrations in a subdued palette evoke classic watercolor and pencil drawings, and illustrated circles effectively illuminate specific moments. While challenging vocabulary may give young readers pause—”social responsibility” and “unemployment insurance” are among the terms that go undefined—guardians seeking a woman activist’s framework, with actionable steps that resonate today, will find this picture book attractive. Back matter includes further information on Social Security, as well as an author’s note and additional resources. Ages 6–10. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild & Wonderful Presidential Pets

Erin McGill. Random House/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-593-12269-3

Showcasing the madcap menagerie of pets that U.S. presidents have kept, this picture book employs an entertaining refrain based on a Truman quote (“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”), that ends here with “and [that] is what many presidents got.” Offering whimsical, if sometimes immediately uncontextualized, facts about animal companions (“George H.W. Bush’s dog, Millie, wrote a book for the First Lady, Barbara”), the book also includes more unusual pets, such as John Quincy Adam’s bathroom-bound alligator. Childlike mixed-media art provide a fitting complement to the buoyant text. The spreads might be more enlightening if catalogued in sequential presidential order, but this book is a treat for anyone with an affinity for pets, presidents, fun facts, or all of the above. Back matter includes a note about the text and art, as well as a consolidated list of each president’s respective pets. Ages 5–9. (July)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Elizabeth Warren’s Big, Bold Plans

Laurie Ann Thompson, illus. by Susanna Chapman. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7580-9

This picture book credibly depicts the life and pursuits of Elizabeth Warren, former presidential candidate and “the first woman senator for Massachusetts.” In a series of densely paragraphed pages, Thompson gives readers a glimpse into Warren’s educational background, love for law and education, and responsibilities as a parent and politician. Bold, hand-lettered-style typography punctuates certain statements for impact: “Laws should help people.” Chapman’s detailed watercolors and digital architecture stand out, and one portrait particularly succeeds in stylizing Warren as she becomes a senator. Unfortunately, America is cast through a dominant white lens—statements like “Elizabeth realized the rules had changed: Working hard wasn’t always enough anymore” may well cause rancor among marginalized folks, for whom “working hard” was never enough from the start—but fans of Warren and inspirational female figures may find the rest of the message sufficiently redemptive. Back matter includes a timeline, selected bibliography, and an author’s note. Ages 4–8. (May)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Joey: The Story of Joe Biden

Jill Biden, with Kathleen Krull, illus. by Amy June Bates. S&S/Wiseman, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-8053-7

Biden’s anecdotal portrait of her spouse’s early years spotlights his competitiveness and risk-taking as a boy who “never refused a dare, even when it was dangerous.” But she places equal emphasis on his role as a peacemaker, devoted brother, and defender of bullied peers—an empathy nurtured by his own experience being mocked for stuttering. The narrative also underscores the influence of his parents’ unwavering encouragement and belief in his ability to succeed, and reveals how Joe Biden’s metamorphosis in high school, when he became a star athlete and class president, paved the way for leadership roles in college and beyond. Bates contributes softly focused, Rockwellian mixed-media illustrations that effectively chart time’s passage. The author’s tone is expectedly laudatory (she cites President Obama’s proclamation that Joe Biden was “the best vice president America’s ever had” and describes her husband as “always voted ‘most liked’ ”), and a line about the figure being “not privileged” strikes an odd note. A concluding timeline concisely supplies details of the 2020 presidential hopeful’s personal and political lives. Ages 4–8. (June)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb!

Veronica Chambers, illus. by Rachelle Baker. Dial, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3089-2

Chambers captures the essence of trailblazing advocate and politician Shirley Chisholm with a conversational narrative that highlights action words representative of the stateswoman. Declaring “verbs are words that move the world forward,” the picture book biography sets apart nearly 30 verbs with capitalized, aqua blue typeface (“Her actions PLANTED the seeds of possibility for others”). An accessible storytelling style uses short, direct sentences to recount that, before Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress and made her 1972 bid to become the first Black and female presidential candidate, she was the daughter of immigrants and a voracious reader, teacher, and organizer. Baker, in her picture book debut, employs realistic digital illustrations to show Chisholm both smiling and serious, her jaw often resolutely set. One spread depicts current female lawmakers for whom Chisholm paved the way. An upbeat story of a dynamic pioneer whose tenacity and courage continue to inspire. Ages 4–8. (July)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

Nikki Grimes, illus. by Laura Freeman. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6267-0

Lightly framed as a conversation between a girl and her mother, this comprehensive picture book biography follows formative events in the life of former presidential candidate and “lawyer, prosecutor, Senator” Kamala Harris. Though each page is information-dense, lyrical prose makes the text effortlessly readable (“Right away, Kamala was like clay/ her parents molded for action..../ chewing on her pacifier/ and words like ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ ”). In multitextured digital art, Freeman succeeds in creatively capturing a range of Harris’s expressions and experiences, exemplified by a layered portrait of her life and legacy. Notably, Grimes covers Harris’s presidential run and withdrawal, leaving young readers with an uplifting message of perseverance and agency: “Kamala Harris is still writing/ her American story.// And so are you.” Back matter includes a timeline and sources. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Vote Is a Powerful Thing

Catherine Stier, illus. by Courtney Dawson. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-8498-9

Callie, a freckled, pigtailed girl, voices this first-person, present-tense picture book narrative about the significance of voting. Callie’s teacher, Ms. Trask, makes the upcoming U.S. presidential election digestible for her students by staging a class election to select the location of their next field trip: a wilderness park that Callie loves and campaigns for (her grandmother is working to preserve it), or the cookie factory, represented by classmate Lynn. The class learns how paramount a single vote can be when the decision comes down to a tiebreaker. Textural digital illustrations by Dawson present a diverse portrait of contemporary America. Though the book doesn’t explain how the indirect U.S. presidential election differs from Callie’s classroom process, it’s a galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests. Back matter includes more information on voting procedures, a timeline highlighting crucial voting rights events, an explanation of the proposition depicted in the book, and resources for further reading. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Sometimes People March

Tessa Allen. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-299118-8

In her author-illustrator debut, Allen presents an accessible introduction to political protest: “Marching is something people do together when they want to resist injustice.” Spare prose informs on the necessity of rallying and communal allyship, with graceful allusions to significant historical events from 1776 to the present. Allen describes multiple modes of engagement, saliently reminding readers that they can make a difference not only through in-person gatherings but also through making art and “by/ standing up/ or sitting down/ or taking a knee.” Inclusive ink and watercolor drawings elegantly attend the subject matter, portraying in gentle washes people of various skin tones, abilities, religions, sexual orientations, and more who are “stronger together.” An excellent supplement for enlightening young readers about activism and encouraging its praxis. Back matter includes a guide to the movements, marches, and key figures included visually throughout, with concise descriptions of each. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
V Is for Voting

Kate Farrell, illus. by Caitlin Kuhwald. Holt, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-23125-3

This rhyming abecedarian seeks to imbue a basic awareness of voting and American history, motivating children to get involved from an early age (“K is for knowing that you can take part./ L is for local, and that’s where you start”). A diverse range of historical leaders accompany many of the letters (Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm holds up a peace sign alongside “U is for unbought,/ unbossed,/ undeterred”). Simplified art makes immediate identification difficult, but the digital illustrations are inclusive and colorfully geometric. Though some lines confusingly refer to the country’s problematic history without context (“H is for homelands that we’ve occupied”), the book is, overall, an accessible contender for parents seeking to raise civically and communally engaged children. Back matter includes a few more tips for young readers to take action, a timeline of voting rights milestones, and a guide to included historical figures. Ages 3–6. (July)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Softies: Stuff That Happens After the World Blows Up (Softies #1)

Kyle Smeallie. Iron Circus, $15 paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-945-82048-9

After surviving the destruction of Earth in an industrial terrarium, 13-year-old Kay puts on a brave face as she traverses the galaxy with new friends: queer, salmon-scaled space waste collector Arizona, and cyborg cat Euclid. Maintaining a steady pace, Smeallie keeps Kay bouncing through the cosmos, visiting a cosmic library, selling Earth wares to aliens, and picking up a hitchhiker while navigating their feelings about Earth’s end. The wide array of side characters that Kay and Arizona meet across their travels, including a salamanderesque librarian and raccoonlike barterers, make the intergalactic setting feel fully realized. Using variously sized panels and weaving in jokes, including amusing alien commentary about Earth items, Smeallie evokes quick comic beats to amplify humorous images and witty banter throughout. Episodic scenes can feel lengthy in this space fantasy (originally a webcomic), and some references, such as to Jimmy Neutron, may go over young readers’ heads, but the story builds to an emotionally satisfying climax as Kay and Arizona at long last confront the trauma of losing Earth and empathize with each other’s tendency to self-isolate. Ages 10–14. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | 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.
X