Strange Fruit: Vol. 2; More Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History

illus. by Joel Christian Gill. 112p. bibliog. Fulcrum. Feb. 2018. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781938486579.
Gr 6 Up—In this outstanding follow-up to 2015's Volume 1, Gill again elevates previously uncelebrated figures from black American history in short illustrated stories. The conversational writing style and the design, featuring colorful illustrations, text blocks, speech bubbles, and asides, make these accounts incredibly engaging. The author/illustrator focuses on subjects who lived during the Civil War, the early 20th century, and World War II and profiles an equal number of men and women, including musical prodigy Stagecoach Mary Fields, conjoined twins Millie and Christine McCoy, and Jourdon Anderson, author of "one of the most gracious clapbacks in history." Gill ably documents his subjects with humor and liveliness, offering a captivating and original take on history. However, his chapter on Blind Tom Wiggins, a talented musician who was blind and autistic, lacks nuance. Gill's characterization of Wiggins as a gifted savant is simplistic; he includes but never questions a quote from Mark Twain about Wiggins ("a harmless idiot to whom all sound was music, and the imitation of them an unceasing delight") and glosses over Wiggins's owners' manipulation.
VERDICT A great addition to history or graphic novel collections.

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