Tundra Telegram: Books to Break Your Souls

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we listen in on topics that are currently running the (social media) world, and count down some books we think are irreplaceable.

You don’t need to be a member of the BeyHive to know that after nearly a decade of surprise drops and visual albums, Beyoncé’s seventh full-length album, Renaissance, was unveiled this past Friday. The immediate response has been overwhelmingly positive for this massive sixteen-track opus that manages to both honor Black musical artists throughout history and contain enough dance-floor bangers destined to instill a wild rumpus in the club. We thought we’d use it – or rather its title – to create this week’s reading list.

So, take that plastic off the sofa and get cozy. Don’t get heated, because we’re about to get all up in your mind and recommend some books for young readers – both about the European Renaissance (of the 15th and 16th centuries) and the later Harlem Renaissance (of the early 20th century) – that might impel you to move your self to the closest bookstore.

PICTURE BOOKS

Langston Hughes was an author who was also one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. That Is My Dream! is a picture book in which illustrator Daniel Miyares adapts his poem, “Dream Variation,” in which a young Black boy in confronted by the harsh reality of segregation and racism over this day, but he dreams of a different life – one full of freedom, hope, and so many possibilities!

Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a picture book biography by Renee Watson and Christian Robinson about Florence Mills, one of the most popular Black performers of the Jazz Age. The book tells her rise to fame on the stages of 1920s Broadway, and how she dedicated herself to supporting and promoting works by fellow Black performers – not unlike Beyoncé herself!

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez tells the story of an Afro-Puerto Rican law clerk who collected letters, music, and art from Africa and Black American creators. When his collection began to overtake his house, he brought it to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection now known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the greatest primary source repositories of the output of the Harlem Renaissance! The book is also available en español.

Bonnie Christensen lets Galileo Galilei tell his side of the story in I, Galileo. Galileo’s contributions to science and the Renaissance were numerous and his ideas world-changing, but in his own time he was branded a heretic and put under house arrest. This is a great kids’ introduction to possibly the most important scientist of the Renaissance!

Few artists had a bigger impact on the Renaissance than Michelangelo, and Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be by Jane Sutcliffe and John Shelley, describes how the artist turned a neglected hunk of marble into one of the world’s most famous hunk sculptures.

And while Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, illustrated by Andrew Joyner, doesn’t focus only on the Renaissance (and, in fact, explores different methods and movements of visual art through depictions of horses), it does include Renaissance artist Raphael’s Saint George Fighting the Dragon, and the accompanying horse.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

To get started in this age range, it’s best to begin with What Was the Harlem Renaissance? by Sherrie L. Smith and Tim Foley to get some background. Young readers learn how the vibrant Black neighborhood in upper Manhattan became home to the leading Black writers, artists, and musicians of the 1920s and 1930s – including profiles of Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Augusta Savage, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Did someone say “Zora Neale Hurston”? The influential Black author of Their Eyes Were Watching God is the protagonist of the Zora and Me trilogy by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon, which fictionalize the youth of Zora Neale Hurston, and look at systemic racism and the power of storytelling in a Black community in the American south at the turn of the century. They serve as coming-of-age tales and great introductions to Hurston as an author.

Though the Magic Treehouse siblings never travelled through time to the Harlem Renaissance (hmmm), Jack and Annie did go back to encounter the artist, inventor, and visionary, Leonardo Da Vinci in Magic Treehouse: Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca. And, as we know, Bey and Jay are fans of Leo’s work.

Need a little more Da Vinci? The graphic novel The History of Western Art in Comics, Part Two by Marion Augustin and Bruno Heitz begins in the Renaissance, and two kids and their grandpa continue their guided tour of art kicking off with such hits as The Last Supper, The Mona Lisa, and the Sistine Chapel. The book only covers up to Modern Art, so the Lemonade visual album doesn’t make an appearance.

And while historians disagree on if we should categorize ol’ William Shakespeare in the Renaissance, we’re going to include him here. Tales from Shakespeare is an excellent introduction for young readers to Shakespeare’s greatest plays, as siblings Charles and Mary Lamb vividly bring to life Hamlet, Othello, As You Like It, Pericles, and more, but modified and retold in a manner sensitive to the needs of young children, without resorting to any actual censoring. Makes sense, as many have argued Beyoncé is our Shakespeare.

YOUNG ADULT

Inspired by their class unit on the Harlem Renaissance, Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes (who was born in Harlem herself) follows the eighteen students of a Mr. Ward’s eleventh grade English class who begin having weekly poetry sharing sessions, revealing their most intimate thoughts about themselves and each another.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough takes readers to Rome in 1610 and introduces them to seventeen-year-old nun Artemisia Gentileschi, the real-life painter who also participated in one of the world’s first high-profile trials of sexual assault. The book looks both at the highs of creative inspiration and the devastating lows of a system rigged against women. (Technically, she was a Baroque painter, not a Renaissance painter, but are you here for book recommendations or art history lessons?)

The European Renaissance is usually associated with cities in what is now known as Italy, but several historical websites claim the reign of Henry VIII marked the real beginning of the Renaissance in England. So, we can also recommend Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, a collaborative work by seven authors (M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson), each telling the story of one of the king’s six wives – and Henry himself, who liked it, and put a ring on it a full six times.

Now let’s get back to business.

Caribbean Heritage Month

June is Caribbean Heritage Month! We’ve made a list of some of our recent books that take place in the Caribbean or include Caribbean characters. 

Picture Books

Coquí in the City
By Nomar Perez
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109038 | Dial Books
Miguel’s pet frog, Coquí, is always with him: as he greets his neighbors in San Juan, buys quesitos from the panadería, and listens to his abuelo’s story about meeting baseball legend Roberto Clemente. Then Miguel learns that he and his parents are moving to the U.S. mainland, which means leaving his beloved grandparents, home in Puerto Rico, and even Coquí behind. Life in New York City is overwhelming, with unfamiliar buildings, foods, and people. But when he and Mamá go exploring, they find a few familiar sights that remind them of home, and Miguel realizes there might be a way to keep a little bit of Puerto Rico with him – including the love he has for Coquí – wherever he goes.

Freedom Soup
By Tami Charles
Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
32 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763689773 | Candlewick Press
Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup – Freedom Soup – just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from. In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next, Jacqueline Alcántara’s lush illustrations bring to life both Belle’s story and the story of the Haitian Revolution. Tami Charles’s lyrical text, as accessible as it is sensory, makes for a tale that readers will enjoy to the last drop.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
By Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
48 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781536208979 | Candlewick Press
Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

This Is Ruby
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Alea Marley
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263611 | Tundra Books
Ruby is a little girl with a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm that’s too big to contain! Ruby is always busy – she loves to make things, watch things grow and figure out how things work, with her dog Teddy by her side. And Ruby has lots of ideas about what she wants to be: maybe an animal conservationist? Or an archaeologist? She’s great at excavating (i.e. digging holes). Or maybe an inventor? She’s already invented a book with smells instead of words (so dogs can read it) and a time machine (the dinosaurs did have feathers after all, and the future is looking wild). This is Ruby, and this is her world.

Tia Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey
By Ruth Behar
Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593172414 | Knopf BFYR
When Estrella’s Tía Fortuna has to say goodbye to her longtime Miami apartment building, The Seaway, to move to an assisted living community, Estrella spends the day with her. Tía explains the significance of her most important possessions from both her Cuban and Jewish culture, as they learn to say goodbye together and explore a new beginning for Tía. A lyrical book about tradition, culture, and togetherness, Tía Fortuna’s New Home explores Tía and Estrella’s Sephardic Jewish and Cuban heritage. Through Tía’s journey, Estrella will learn that as long as you have your family, home is truly where the heart is.

Middle Grade

Merci Suarez Changes Gears
By Meg Medina
368 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536212587 | Candlewick
Merci Suárez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, as strong and thoughtful as Merci is, she has never been completely like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately – forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. And Merci is left to her own worries, because no one in her family will tell her what’s going on. Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, this coming-of-age tale by New York Times best-selling author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school – and the steadfast connection that defines family.

Singing With Elephants
By Margarita Engle
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206690 | Viking BFYR
Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that’s okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic. Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature, moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage to stay true to herself and do what she thinks is right – attempting to rescue a baby elephant in need – even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves. A beautifully written, lyrically told story about the power of friendship – between generations, between humans and animals – and the potential of poetry to inspire action and acceptance.

Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene
By Emma Otheguy
288 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593372630 | Knopf BFYR
It’s a good thing Sofía Acosta loves dreaming up costumes, because otherwise she’s a ballet disaster – unlike her parents, who danced under prima ballerina Alicia Alonso before immigrating to the suburbs of New York. Luckily, when the Acostas host their dancer friends from Cuba for a special performance with the American Ballet Theatre, Sofía learns there’s more than dance holding her family together. Between swapping stories about Cuba and sharing holiday celebrations, the Acostas have never been more of a team. Then Sofía finds out about the dancers’ secret plans to defect to the United States, and makes a serious mistake – she confides in her best friend, only to discover that Tricia doesn’t want “outsiders” moving to their community. Now Sofía wonders what the other neighbors in her tight-knit suburban town really think of immigrant families like hers. Sofía doesn’t want to make a scene, but if she doesn’t speak up, how will she figure out if her family really belongs?

Young Adult

Fight Like a Girl
By Sheena Kamal
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265578 | Penguin Teen Canada
Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to the Toronto east-end townhouse that Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat. Her father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.

Home, Home
By Lisa Allen-Agostini
160 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984893611 | Ember
Moving from Trinidad to Canada wasn’t her idea. But after being hospitalized for depression, her mother sees it as the only option. Now, living with an estranged aunt she barely remembers and dealing with her “troubles” in a foreign country, she feels more lost than ever. Everything in Canada is cold and confusing. No one says hello, no one walks anywhere, and bus trips are never-ending and loud. She just wants to be home home, in Trinidad, where her only friend is going to school and Sunday church service like she used to do. But this new home also brings unexpected surprises: the chance at a family that loves unconditionally, the possibility of new friends, and the promise of a hopeful future. Though she doesn’t see it yet, Canada is a place where she can feel at home – if she can only find the courage to be honest with herself.

Black History Month Reading List 2022

February is Black History Month, and we encourage you to visit your local bookstore or library to learn more. In the meantime, we have compiled our reading recommendations for you. For more recommendations, check out last year’s list or our list for World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture.

Picture Books:

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country
By Atinuke
Illustrated by Mouni Feddag
80 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536205374 | Candlewick
A Nigerian storyteller explores the continent of Africa country by country: its geography, peoples, animals, history, resources, and cultural diversity. The book is divided into five distinct sections – South, East, West, Central, and North – and each country is showcased on its own bright, energetic page brimming with friendly facts on science, industry, food, sports, music, wildlife, landscape features, even snippets of local languages. The richest king, the tallest sand dunes, and the planet’s largest waterfall all make appearances along with drummers, cocoa growers, inventors, balancing stones, salt lakes, high-tech cities, and nomads who use GPS! Atinuke’s lively and comprehensive introduction to all fifty-five African countries – a celebration scaled to dazzle and delight even very young readers – evokes the continent’s unique blend of modern and traditional. Complete with colorful maps, an index, and richly patterned and textured illustrations by debut children’s book artist Mouni Feddag, Africa, Amazing Africa is both a beautiful gift book and an essential classroom and social studies resource.

Because Claudette
By Tracey Baptiste
Illustrated by Tonya Engel
32 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326404 | Dial BFYR
When fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a segregated bus on March 2, 1955, she had no idea she was about to make history. At school she was learning about abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, which helped inspire her decision to refuse to give up her seat to a white woman, which led to her arrest, which began a crucial chain of events: Rosa Park’s sit-in nine months later, the organization of the Montgomery bus boycott by activists like Professor Jo Ann Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Supreme Court decision that Alabama’s bus segregation was unconstitutional – a major triumph for the civil rights movement. Because of Claudette’s brave stand against injustice, history was transformed. Now it’s time for young readers to learn about this living legend, her pivotal role in the civil rights movement, and the power of one person reaching out to another in the fight for change.

Darryl’s Dream
By Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Shawnee Warfield, Johnny Warfield, and Adam Padilla
Illustrated by Tristan Tait
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593487747 | Random House BFYR
Meet Darryl, a quiet third grader with big hopes and dreams. He loves writing and wants to share his talents, but he’s shy – and the kids who make fun of his glasses only make things worse. Will the school talent show be his chance to shine? Darryl’s Dream, by iconic performer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, is a story about finding confidence, facing bullies, and celebrating yourself. This full-color picture book is certain to entertain children and parents with its charming art and important message.

Hey You! An Empowering Celebration of Growing Up Black
By Dapo Adeola
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593529423 | Nancy Paulsen Books
This book addresses – honestly, yet hopefully – the experiences Black children face growing up with systemic racism, as well as providing hope for the future and delivering a message of empowerment to a new generation of dreamers. It’s a message that is both urgent and timeless – and offers a rich and rewarding reading experience for every child. To mirror the rich variety of the Black diaspora, this book showcases artwork from Dapo Adeola and eighteen more incredible Black illustrators in one remarkable and cohesive reading experience.

My Little Golden Book about Kamala Harris
By Rajani LaRocca
Illustrated by Ashley Evans
24 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593430224 | Golden Books
Help your little one dream big with a Little Golden Book biography all about the first female Vice President Kamala Harris! The perfect introduction to nonfiction for preschoolers! This Little Golden Book about Kamala Harris – the first woman, first African American woman, and first Indian American woman to be elected Vice President of the United States – is an inspiring read-aloud for young girls and boys.

My Little Golden Book about Misty Copeland
By Sherri L. Smith
Illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
24 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593380673 | Golden Books
Help your little one dream big with a Little Golden Book biography all about Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theatre’s first Black principal dancer! The perfect introduction to nonfiction for preschoolers! This Little Golden Book introduces ballet prodigy Misty Copeland to the youngest readers. The first Black principal dancer in the history of the American Ballet Theatre – who didn’t start dancing until she was almost thirteen – continues to impress the world and pave the way for young Black girls to chase their dreams.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone
By Traci N. Todd
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524737283 | Putnam BFYR
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in small town North Carolina, Nina Simone was a musical child. She sang before she talked and learned to play piano at a very young age. With the support of her family and community, she received music lessons that introduced her to classical composers like Bach who remained with her and influenced her music throughout her life. She loved the way his music began softly and then tumbled to thunder, like her mother’s preaching, and in much the same way as her career. During her first performances under the name of Nina Simone her voice was rich and sweet but as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam, Nina’s voice soon became a thunderous roar as she raised her voice in powerful protest in the fight against racial inequality and discrimination.

Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch
By Heidi Tyline King
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101996294 | Putnam BFYR
MaVynee loved going to the beach. But in the days of Jim Crow, she couldn’t just go to any beach – most of the beaches in Jacksonville were for whites only. Knowing something must be done, her grandfather bought a beach that African American families could enjoy without being reminded they were second class citizens; he called it American Beach. Artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Charles vacationed on its sunny shores. It’s here that MaVynee was first inspired to sing, propelling her to later become a widely acclaimed opera singer who routinely performed on an international stage. But her first love would always be American Beach. After the Civil Rights Act desegregated public places, there was no longer a need for a place like American Beach and it slowly fell into disrepair. MaVynee remembered the importance of American Beach to her family and so many others, so determined to preserve this integral piece of American history, she began her second act as an activist and conservationist, ultimately saving the place that had always felt most like home.

She Persisted: Coretta Scott King
By Kelly Starling Lyons and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353509 | Philomel BFYR
In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Kelly Starling Lyons, readers learn about the amazing life of Coretta Scott King – and how she persisted. Coretta Scott King is known for being the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but she was a civil rights activist and leader in her own right! She was a singer and an author too, and her work made a difference for Black Americans and for all women for decades to come. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Coretta Scott King’s footsteps and make a difference! And don’t miss out on the rest of the books in the She Persisted series, featuring so many more women who persisted!

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress
By Alicia D. Williams
Illustrated by April Harrison
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593123683 | Anne Schwartz Books
Meet Shirley, a little girl who asks way too many questions! After spending her early years on her grandparents’ farm in Barbados, she returns home to Brooklyn and immediately makes herself known. Shirley kicks butt in school; she breaks her mother’s curfew; she plays jazz piano instead of classical. And as a young adult, she fights against the injustice she sees around her, against women and black people. Soon she is running for state assembly . . . and winning in a landslide. Three years later, she is on the campaign trail again, as the first black woman to run for Congress. Her slogan? “Fighting Shirley Chisholm – Unbought and Unbossed!” Does she win? You bet she does.

Sonny Rollins Plays the Bridge
By Gary Golio
Illustrated by James Ransome
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984813664 | Nancy Paulsen Books
Sonny Rollins loved his saxophone. As a teenager, he was already playing with jazz stars and making a name for himself. But in 1959, at age twenty-nine, he took a break from performing – to work on being a better, not just famous, musician. Practicing in a city apartment didn’t please the neighbors, so Sonny found a surprising alternative – the Williamsburg Bridge. There, with his head in the clouds and foghorns for company, Sonny could play to his heart’s content and perfect his craft. It was a bold choice, for a bold young man and musician. Sonny’s passion for music comes alive in jazzy text and vivid, evocative paintings of New York City. His story celebrates striving to be your very best self, an inspiration to music lovers young and old.

Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
By Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524720643 | Random House Studio
Georgia Gilmore was cooking when she heard the news Mrs. Rosa Parks had been arrested – pulled off a city bus and thrown in jail all because she wouldn’t let a white man take her seat. To protest, the radio urged everyone to stay off city buses for one day: December 5, 1955. Throughout the boycott – at Holt Street Baptist Church meetings led by a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. – and throughout the struggle for justice, Georgia served up her mouth-watering fried chicken, her spicy collard greens, and her sweet potato pie, eventually selling them to raise money to help the cause. Here is the vibrant true story of a hidden figure of the civil rights movement, told in flavorful language by a picture-book master, and stunningly illustrated by a Caldecott Honor recipient and seven-time Coretta Scott King award-winning artist.

The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice
By Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Laura Freeman
40 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593306505 | Random House Studio
When Elijah Cummings was a little boy, he struggled in school. His teachers thought he talked too much and asked too many questions. They said he’d never be able to read or write well. Despite his difficulties, Elijah never gave up. He persevered, having faith that with hard work, he’d be able to achieve his goals. Best known as a voice for people of color and an advocate for equal opportunity, Elijah Cummings was a man of faith and dignity, a beacon of justice, and an unrelenting warrior for equality and change. Carole Boston Weatherford and Laura Freeman marry words and images beautifully in this picture book biography of politician and civil rights champion Elijah Cummings, detailing his inspiring journey – from his humble beginnings as the son of former sharecroppers to his unwavering faith as he became a lawyer, state legislator, and leading congressman. Best known as a voice for people of color and an advocate for equal opportunity, Elijah Cummings was a man of faith and dignity, a beacon of justice, and an unrelenting warrior for equality and change.

When We Say Black Lives Matter
By Maxine Beneba Clarke
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536222388 | Candlewick
In this joyful exploration of the Black Lives Matter motto, a loving narrator relays to a young Black child the strength and resonance behind the words. In family life, through school and beyond, the refrains echo and gain in power, among vignettes of protests and scenes of ancestors creating music on djembe drums. With deeply saturated illustrations rendered in jewel tones, Maxine Beneba Clarke offers a gorgeous, moving, and essential picture book.

Middle Grade:

Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South
By Wade Hudson
272 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593126356 | Crown BFYR
Born in 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, Wade Hudson came of age against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. From their home on Mary Street, his close-knit family watched as the country grappled with desegregation, as the Klan targeted the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and as systemic racism struck across the nation and in their hometown. Amidst it all, Wade was growing up. Getting into scuffles, playing baseball, immersing himself in his church community, and starting to write. Most important, Wade learned how to find his voice and use it. From his family, his community, and his college classmates, Wade learned the importance of fighting for change by confronting the laws and customs that marginalized and demeaned people. This powerful memoir reveals the struggles, joys, love, and ongoing resilience that it took to grow up Black in segregated America, and the lessons that carry over to our fight for a better future.

Fast Pitch
By Nic Stone
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984893017 | Crown BFYR
Shenice Lockwood, captain of the Fulton Firebirds, is hyper-focused when she steps up to the plate. Nothing can stop her from leading her team to the U12 fast-pitch softball regional championship. But life has thrown some curveballs her way.
Strike one: As the sole team of all-brown faces, Shenice and the Firebirds have to work twice as hard to prove that Black girls belong at bat.
Strike two: Shenice’s focus gets shaken when her great-uncle Jack reveals that a career-ending – and family-name-ruining – crime may have been a setup.
Strike three: Broken focus means mistakes on the field. Shenice’s teammates are beginning to wonder if she’s captain-qualified.
It’s up to Shenice to discover the truth about her family’s past – and fast – before secrets take the Firebirds out of the game forever.

Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior
By Ed Clayton
Illustrated by Donald Bermudez
128 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781536222906 | Candlewick
Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to helping people, first as a Baptist minister and scholar and later as the foremost leader in the African-American civil rights movement. An organizer of the Montgomery bus boycott and cofounder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. As a result of his actions, the United States Congress passed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. This book’s powerful story and important message, originally published in 1964, remain as relevant today as they were more than fifty years ago. With a new foreword by the author’s widow, Xernona Clayton, the text has been reviewed and updated for a new generation and features striking new illustrations by Donald Bermudez.

Polo Cowboy
By G. Neri
Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207118 | Candlewick
When Cole moves in with his dad, Harp, he thinks life will be sweet – just him and his horse, Boo, hanging out with Philadelphia’s urban cowboys. But when Harp says he has to get a job, Cole winds up as a stable hand for the polo team at George Washington Military Academy, where the players are rich, white, and stuck-up – all except Ruthie, the team’s first and only girl, who’s determined to show the others she can beat them at their own game. As Cole and Ruthie become friends – and maybe more – he starts imagining his future, maybe even at the academy. But between long workdays, arrogant polo players, and a cousin trying to pull Cole into his dangerous business, that future seems remote. Will Cole find the courage to stand and be seen in a world determined to keep him out? With striking illustrations by Jesse Joshua Watson, celebrated author G. Neri’s novel weaves themes of tenacity and community into a rousing sports story inspired by Philadelphia’s real-life urban cowboys and polo players.

Recognize! An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life
Edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
208 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593381595 | Crown BFYR
In the stunning follow-up to The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth, award-winning Black authors and artists come together to create a moving anthology collection celebrating Black love, Black creativity, Black resistance, and Black life. Prominent Black creators lend their voice, their insight, and their talent to an inspiring anthology that celebrates Black culture and Black life. Essays, poems, short stories, and historical excerpts blend with a full-color eight-page insert of spellbinding art to capture the pride, prestige, and jubilation that is being Black in America. In these pages, find the stories of the past, the journeys of the present, and the light guiding the future.

Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
By Kekla Magoon
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536214185 | Candlewick
In this comprehensive, inspiring, and all-too-relevant history of the Black Panther Party, Kekla Magoon introduces readers to the Panthers’ community activism, grounded in the concept of self-defense, which taught Black Americans how to protect and support themselves in a country that treated them like second-class citizens. For too long the Panthers’ story has been a footnote to the civil rights movement rather than what it was: a revolutionary socialist movement that drew thousands of members – mostly women – and became the target of one of the most sustained repression efforts ever made by the U.S. government against its own citizens. Revolution in Our Time puts the Panthers in the proper context of Black American history, from the first arrival of enslaved people to the Black Lives Matter movement of today. Kekla Magoon’s eye-opening work invites a new generation of readers grappling with injustices in the United States to learn from the Panthers’ history and courage, inspiring them to take their own place in the ongoing fight for justice.