June 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Young, Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson | SLJ Review

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redstarWILSONJamia. Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present. illus. by Andrea Pippins. 64p. glossary. photos. Wide Eyed Editions. Feb. 2018. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781786031587.

Gr 3 Up –With a title that references the late Lorraine Hansberry’s phrase “young, gifted and black,” this exuberant collected biography is one readers won’t want to miss. Students are invited to explore one and two-page vignettes of 52 compelling figures in black culture worldwide. Each profile recounts their beginnings and marvelous feats as scientists, writers, athletes, artists, or activists, both past and present. Exquisitely designed, each illustrated portrait is thickly outlined, colored digitally, and illuminated by irradiating forms that resemble papel picado. Each written entry follows a precise format: a clear definition of the person in a larger sans-serif font; the same but smaller font for the text; a bold handwriting font for a highlighted quote; and an outlined, all-caps font for the inventive titles given to each, such as “Conductor” for Harriet Tubman, “Soul-Singing Superstar” for Solange, and “Chess Grandmaster” for Maurice Ashley. There is not a chronology or categories. There is a back matter and a “Hall of Fame” photo album–like index of black-and-white headshots, each framed with a name banner and page number. In the preface, New York–based activist author Wilson and illustrator Pippins pinpoint the importance of telling stories of black success with the adage that “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” VERDICT Share this book widely across generations as a launching point for more discoveries.–Sara Lissa Paulson, City-As-School High School, New York City

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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