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Author: Alexander, Kwame
An ode to black American triumph and tribulation throughout history.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 2.60
Points: .5 Quiz: 502169
Kirkus Reviews (+) (02/01/19)
School Library Journal (+) (04/01/19)
Booklist (+) (02/15/19)
The Hornbook (+) (00/03/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/15/2019 *Starred Review* Alexander and Nelson combine their considerable talents in this ode to inspiring African American heroes in the fields of sport, the arts, and political activism, as well as everyday champions whose very survival exemplifies success. In elegiac-style verse, Alexander celebrates “the swift and sweet ones / who hurdled history . . . / the ones who survived / America / by any means necessary,” and those “who shine / their light for the world to see / and don’t stop / ‘til the break of dawn.” Nelson’s photo-realistic illustrations, rendered in oil, include action shots (Jesse Owens, mid hurdle), portraits (Martin Luther King Jr. and an African American Union soldier), composites (of jazz and sports greats), and iconographic compositions that depict the unspeakable (bodies lined up representing abducted Africans en route to America, part of the Middle Passage). Designed for reading aloud, the text also makes use of several typographic cues that signal meaning: emphasized words appear in larger font, while references to the words of others (“we shall not be moved”) appear in italics. And, while the content references several tragic events (slavery and police brutality, among others), the poem closes with a hopeful nod to the rising generation. Appended with notes on the historical figures cited, this is a beautiful volume that encourages multiple viewings and further research. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a lengthy roster of accolades and best-seller credits between them, this untouchable duo's book will fly off the shelf. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 04/01/2019 Gr 3 Up—This inaugural title from Newbery Medalist Alexander's new imprint is a poignant and powerful ode to the resilience and strength of black life and history in America. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated in 2016, the poem adopts a picture book format with a new title, accompanied by stunning oil paintings in Nelson's trademark photorealistic style. The evocative illustrations stand out against stark white backgrounds and vary in their composition. On some spreads, the focus is on a single expressive portrait; others feature collages of African American icons from various disciplines, or refer to significant historical moments. The art functions in perfect harmony with the poet's spare, striking verse to electrify the Black American experience, and to celebrate black athletes, writers, musicians, activists, and heroes. From the unspeakable trauma of American slavery and the transatlantic slave trade to the brave service of black troops during the Civil War, from the fierce and unwavering fight for civil rights to the Black Lives Matter movement, from Selma to Birmingham to Harlem, this book is both a soaring tribute to the enduring perseverance and achievements of the past and a stirring call to action to "the dreamers and the doers" of the present and the future. Back matter includes an afterword from the author as well as additional information about the historical figures and events featured in the book. VERDICT Alexander and Nelson present an exceptionally moving and triumphant work. This book is an essential first purchase for all libraries. -Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.