Jackie Ormes Draws the ­Future: The Remarkable Life of a Pioneering Cartoonist

­Random House Studio. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593426548.
Gr 2-5–Using a drawing style and pacing indicative and in homage to newspaper cartoons, this is a glimpse of groundbreaking Black female American cartoonist Jackie Ormes, as told and illustrated by a groundbreaking Black female American cartoonist. The biography opens in Ormes’s small town outside of Pittsburgh, her persistence in finding a newspaper job as a reporter right before high school at a Black-owned newspaper and hitting her stride drawing politically charged newspaper comics in the voice of child character Patty-Jo, for the Chicago Defender. With roughly 50–100 words per spread, the story emphasizes that through her perseverance, Ormes finds work as a comic artist and tells stories that otherwise could not be told. The book provides brief snapshots into the Black American experience of the time, with a cursory take on the Great Migration of Black Americans in Ormes’s comic work and in her move into Chicago after the Great Depression. Additionally, the book also provides context for World War II and the inequalities faced by Black soldiers upon their return. Then comes six-year-old Patty-Jo. The book has Black characters in varied shades and mostly shows white characters as stylized outlines or from the back. The artwork is done using spot coloring and two-dimensional drawing with a limited color palette; the book comes with a brief biography, short author’s note, and a bibliography.
VERDICT A must purchase for libraries. Its overarching theme of persistence will resonate with readers.

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