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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Black History Books for Youth
There’s lots of sports action in this year’s top 10 black-history titles, which were published during the last 12 months. But there’s laughter, too, as well as heartbreaking drama, prejudice, and community.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls. By Gwendolyn Brooks. Illus. by Faith Ringgold. 2007. HarperCollins/Amistad $16.99 (0-06-029505-8).
Ringgold gives these 34 poems, originally published in 1956, an exuberant new flavor in naif-style art, envisioning the poems’ protagonists as members of a contemporary, urban African American community. A book that honors both the poetry and today’s child reader.
The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County. By Janice Harrington. Illus. by Shelley Jackson. 2007. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $16 (9780374312510). PreS–Gr. 2.
Wonderful for reading aloud, this picture book, illustrated with energetic collages, tells a rollicking story of a girl’s sly barnyard game with feather-flying action.
Elijah of Buxton. By Christopher Paul Curtis. 2007. Scholastic, $16.99 (0-439-02344-0). Gr. 6–8.
Curtis’ gripping account of the first free child born in Canada’s Buxton Settlement for runaway slaves uses a young boy’s perspective to relate the horrors his parents escaped, the continuing danger, and the kindness of the people in the community. Booklist’s 2007 Top of the List winner—Youth Fiction. See also the Booklist Interview with Curtis.
Henry’s Freedom Box. By Ellen Levine. Illus. by Kadir Nelson. 2007. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780439777339). Gr. 1–3.
Dramatic artwork brings to life the amazing story of Henry Brown, a slave forever separated from his family, who hides in a crate so he can be mailed to freedom.
Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color. By Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. 2007. Boyds Mills/Wordsong, $17.95 (1-59078-456-1). Gr. 6–10.
Twenty-four beautiful poems in different voices and quiet pastel illustrations tell the stirring story of daring young black girls who attended a school set up by white teacher Prudence Crandall, and how, together, they defied bigotry in 1833 Connecticut.
Off-Color. By Janet McDonald. 2007. Farrar/Frances Foster, $16 (0-374-37196-2). Gr. 7–12.
“Folks of every hue, color, and complexion having a great time.” In fast-talking dialogue—insulting, angry, tender, and funny—McDonald writes of hard times and joy in the life of 15-year-old Cameron, who discovers her mixed-race heritage.
On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History through Spirituals. By Nikki Giovanni. 2007. Candlewick, $18.99 (0-7636-2885-9). Gr. 5–8.
Personal and passionate, Giovanni’s short narrative talks about the sacred songs first sung by slaves, tracing how people in bondage created the great spirituals to tell their stories, and what the songs (presented in full at the end of the book) still mean to us today.
Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. By James Sturm. Illus. by Rich Tommaso. 2007. Hyperion. $16.99 (0-7868-3900-7) Gr. 6–12.
In a powerful graphic novel, a fictional farmer who made it to the Negro Leagues talks about the sensational pitcher who defied the barriers of prejudice and became his hero and the inspiration for many others.
What They Found: Love on 145th Street. By Walter Dean Myers. 2007. Random/Wendy Lamb, $15.99 (9780385321389). Gr. 7–11.
There’s plenty of lively, funny dialogue in this collection of contemporary stories, which show what it’s like to be “poor and black” on the streets of Harlem, in prison, or at the front in Afghanistan. Hope lies in finding love and community.
Young Pelé: Soccer’s First Star. By Lesa Ransome. Illus. by James Ransome. 2007. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (0-375-83599-7). K–Gr. 3.
The sports action depicted in Ransome’s handsome oil paintings will bring children to this biography of the great soccer player. Just as exciting, though, is the account of Pelé’s personal struggle and amazing rise from poverty to international soccer stardom.
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