Our Children Can Soar by Michelle Cook Illustrated by a collaboration of illustrators such as Leo and Diane Dillon, James Ransome, E.B. Lewis, Eric Velasquez, AG Ford, and others.

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NAACP Image Award Winner!

From the Publisher

Booklist starred review- 

NAACP Image Award Winner “A cohesive and affecting collective portrait.” &mdashPublishers Weekly, starred review “Celebration, inspiration, and connection are the themes that drive this big, handsome picture book. . . . Will inspire parents and grandparents to share their memories and talk with children about the future.” 

Publishers Weekly

Showcasing the art of 13 artists, this resonant book was inspired by a simple yet searing phrase that celebrates the achievements of African-Americans, which was featured, in various versions, online and at rallies during the 2008 presidential campaign. Cook's adaptation pays tribute to 10 individuals, including George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson. These figures' triumphs are shown as part of a seamless continuum: "Martin marched... so Thurgood could rule. Thurgood ruled... so Barack could run. Barack ran... so our children can soar!" The spreads understandably represent an array of artistic styles and media, yet they form a cohesive and affecting collective portrait: a musical staff swathes Pat Cummings's Ella Fitzgerald like a boa, while Shadra Strickland's Ruby Bridges is a small yet determined figure, marching up the schoolhouse steps against a backdrop of protestors. Additional images from Leo and Diane Dillon, James Ransome, E.B. Lewis, Eric Velasquez and others, corroborate Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman's assertion, in the book's foreword, that African-American history is "the story of hope." Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Great African-American history-makers are the focus of this simple text. During Barack Obama's campaign for president, rallies and blogs repeated phrases that mentioned the people who paved the way for an African-American man to become president. This book is a short history lesson. African-American ancestors, George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens, Hattie McDaniel, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Barack Obama are mentioned in short poetic tribute to African-American greats. Because the text is meant to be inspirational, it is short, but the back of the book contains biographies of each of the people mentioned. Each spread of the book is illustrated by a different African-American illustrator. Each illustrator has a short biography in the back as well as comments about the book. It also contains a forward by Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund. It would be an excellent selection for African-American history collections and to update libraries with current books about Barack Obama. Reviewer: Marcie Flinchum Atkins

School Library Journal

K-Gr 6

Similar in approach to Ntozake Shange's Ellington Was Not a Street (S & S, 2004), this book spotlights a historical African-American figure on each spread. Cook's brief words introduce 11 key individuals, beginning with "Our ancestors fought.../so George [Washington Carver] could invent./George invented...so Jesse [Owens] could sprint./Jesse sprinted...." Each stunning spread features full-bleed artwork done by a different children's book illustrator, such as James Ransome, Leo and Diane Dillon, Pat Cummings, E. B. Lewis, and Bryan Collier. Sports greats Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson verily leap from the pages. Ruby Bridges steps innocently into her school building, guarded by two federal marshals. An unknown Civil War soldier reminds readers of nameless heroes who struggled for freedom. These images will motivate students to seek further information about the people depicted here. Paragraph-length profiles of these "pioneers of change" are appended as are the artists' biographies, which will lead students to discover a rich body of work by contemporary illustrators. A perfect read-aloud to introduce a lesson on biographies or African-American studies.-Catherine Trinkle, Hickory Elementary, Avon, IN

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