2001 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you believe in–even when it feels like no one is listening. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s moving text and Stephen Alcorn’s glorious portraits celebrate the lives of ten bold women who lit the path to freedom for generations. Includes biographies of Sojournor Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm.
I like that this book talks about race in a way that's approachable for kids—in that everyone has a story, and one thing that makes up part of our story is our race. I think it does a pretty good job explaining race and racism (though it never explicitly says racism, it just explains how some people believe their race is better than another). However, the one thing I didn't like about this book is the aspect of "taking off our skin"—the point they are making is great (that underneath we are all the same), but it talks about it pretty literally with illustrations of skeletons. I had a hard time trying not to visualize a gross, muscley image when it talked about taking off "all our skin . . . clothes . . . and hair" to all look the same. I'd personally prefer to find a different book that has a similar message without this aspect.
Stephen Alcorn is an acclaimed painter and printmaker who has created artwork for a number of anthologies and picture books, including Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney, and I, Too, Sing America: Three Centuries of African American Poetry by Catherine Clinton. He lives in Cambridge, New York. Visit Stephen Alcorn at alcorngallery.com.
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