We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders. Chronicle, 2019. Unp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-7039-8. Ages 8+. P9Q9
Sixteen artists use a variety of media and styles to illustrate words of 15 activists (Maya Angelou has two quotes) from Hawaii’s Queen Lili’uokalani to the United States President Obama. Thirteen of these subjects are people of color, and over half are women. Racially and gender diverse illustrators, whose bios are at the end of the book, explain why the quotations are meaningful to them. The cover depicts voting booths. As Harry Belafonte wrote in the introduction, “When opportunity is shared, it does not divide but rather multiplies, advancing the horizons of each individual and each industry.”
Verdict: The quotes in this book should be read every day because they bring hope in a dark time.
June 2019 review by Nel Ward.
Tinari, Leah. Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts. Aladdin, 2018. $19.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-5344-1855-4. Ages 9-12. P7Q6
Each large, full-page graffiti-style face is accompanied by quotes of each woman to show boys that “women could be role models or heroes for them.” Each gouache drawing in black on white background is highlighted by a neon color—pink, green, blue, and orange. Brief biographies for these women born in the 19th and 20th centuries complete the book.
Verdict: Some of the quotes about the women are by men, and the book lacks diversity with the majority cis, straight, white, and not disabled. More of a coffee-table book, it is more useful for flipping through because the quotes don’t provide background information.
December 2018 review by Nel Ward.
Grin and Bear It: The Wit & Wisdom of Corduroy. Based on the characters created by Don Freeman. Pictures by Don Freeman and Judy Wheeler. Viking, 2018. $12.99. ISBN 9780451479297. Unpaged. Ages 7+. P6 Q7
If you are familiar with the children’s story, Corduroy, you will enjoy Grin and Bear it: The Wit & Wisdom of Corduroy. This small book is not a story but is filled with words of encouragement based on the story and illustrations of Corduroy. One page contains words of wisdom and encouragement and the facing page contains illustrations taken from the book Corduroy. From “Love what you see in the mirror” to “Never forget who you are and never forget who loves you,” I found the small book comforting and uplifting. Each page can be read on its own or straight through. Some of the words of wisdom may be a bit advanced for young children, but adults can explain the meaning.
Verdict: If I read this book to children, I would read Corduroy first so they would have a reference and the book would be more meaningful. Older children as well as adults will enjoy this book since it has familiar illustrations and words of encouragement that will warm their hearts. Corduroy was one of my daughter’s favorite books. As an adult, she enjoyed this small book of wisdom.
April 2018 review by Tami Harris.
Hart, Charlie. You Can!: Words of Wisdom From the Little Engine That Could. Illustrated by Jill Howarth. Grosset & Dunlap, 2018. Unpaged. $12.99. ISBN 9781524784683. Ages 8+. P6 Q7
We are familiar with The Little Engine that Could and often read the book to inspire children to believe in themselves and to believe that they can accomplish their goals. This small book is not a story but is filled with quick and simple words of wisdom based on the story and illustrations from the Little Engine That Could. One page contains short words of wisdom and the other page contains colorful, cheerful illustrations. Each page can stand alone or can be read straight through. Some of the words of wisdom, such as, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel” may be advanced for young readers, but adults can explain the meaning to them.
Verdict: If I read this book to children, I would read The Little Engine that Could first. Without that, they would not have a reference for the book and it would not be as meaningful. I think older children and adults will enjoy this book since it has familiar illustrations and the words of wisdom reminding them that they can do it. I recommend this book for public libraries.
April 2018 review by Tami Harris.