Meet Authors & Illustrators

Patricia McKissack

   A prolific writer of historical fiction and stories about African Americans, Patricia frequently collaborates with her husband and others members of her family. She decided to write books about African Americans to inspire kids and to help improve their self esteem.

   Differences are important and being different is not wrong. That also applies to working with her husband Fred. They argue and have different views, it is not a right or wrong division, just another way of looking at an issue or a project.

   One book that required extensive reasearch was Christmas in The Big House, Christmas in the Quarters. She and Fred chose a Virginia Plantation during the days of slavery, because Virginia was the mother of Christmas in the colonial period. They undertook extensive research in the Tidewater area, visiting plantation, looking at slave cabins, learning about the foods people ate, how they worked, and customs such as requiring the servants to whistle so they couldn't nibble on the food they were carrying from the kitchen to the dining room. Fascinating facts such as the origin of some food names--slaves would mix cornmeal and fry it up and throw it to the dogs and say "Hush Puppies." (Now, you might think twice about this Southern delicacy.)

   Patricia collected so much information that she was able to develop another book-- A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, A Slave Girl, Belmont Plantation, Virginia, 1859. There were slaves who could read and write. Having seen Gone with the Wind, Patricia wanted to create a more realitic picture of a slavery. She and Fred collaborated on another book Rebels Against Slavery.

   One of my favorite stories is Flossie & the Fox (1986, Dial, Ages 4 to 8, $14.99) which harkened back to the days when Patricia's grandfather would tell stories. She came from a family of that enjoyed telling ghost stories, folktales, reciting poetry on hot summery evenings. Sassy little Flossie outfoxes the fox in this wonderful story with dialect and illustrations by Rachel Isadora. A new book Ma Dear's Aprons is also a slice of life in the South.

Reflecting on the other influences in her life, Patricia remembered her teachers and wondered if teachers realize what an impact they have. They can change and influence lives and so can books. For more information about Patricia, cllick here.

Contributor: Marilyn Courtot

 

Reviews

African-American Inventors
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
  Also absent from the Visual Timeline are African-American Inventors whose contributions Patricia and Fredrick McKissack highlight in their well-researched volume. They explain what patents are, how the U.S. patent system works, and they introduce the innovators and their patented devices in chronological order. Among the inventors are Jan Metzliger, who revolutionized the shoe industry; Lewis Latimer and Granville T. Woods, pioneers in the field of electricity; and Elijah McCoy and Frederick McKinley Jones, each of whom youngsters can learn more about in the books that follow. 1994, Millbrook, Ages 11 up, $18.40. Reviewer: Beverly Kobrin
ISBN: 1-56294-468-1
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Second Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

Black Diamond
Patricia C. McKissack & Fredrick McKissack, Jr
  African Americans did not play major league baseball until Jackie Robinson became a part of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. But that doesn't mean that African Americans didn't enjoy the sport. There were many teams and players who constituted the Negro Leagues. The McKissacks start with a brief history of the sport and then move on to discuss in detail the development of the sport and its African American stars. If you are a sports or history buff, this book will have lots of appeal. It is liberally illustrated with black and white photographs (not always of good quality), but never-the-less interesting. There is a section of brief biographies of the various players, a Hall of Fame listing, timeline, and index. The book was selected as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. 1994, Scholastic, Ages 10 up, $14.95 and $3.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0-590-45809-4
ISBN: 0-590-67170-7
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Second Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers
Patricia S. McKissack and Frederick L. McKissack
   Anyone who has read Moby Dick, or seen any movies, television shows, or documentaries about whaling may assume that the men and women who manned America's whaling ships in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were all white. Not so, as this fascinating book reveals. Runaway slaves and freed blacks flocked to Massachusetts whaling towns in those times to try their hands in a new and increasingly lucrative trade. The award-winning authors of several books about African-American history have written another important work, filled with first person accounts and crisp narratives, describing the lives of black whalers whose contribution to our nation's past is largely unknown to the general public There is much here to enjoy. This title includes many poignant stories-how the residents of one Massachusetts town saved runaway slaves from southern bounty hunters; the 1841 speech in Nantucket which launched the abolitionist career of the great Frederick Douglass; and whalers' contributions to the Union cause during the Civil War. Indeed, the authors tell of Robert Smalls, a slave and ship pilot, who captured a Confederate ship, sailed it out of a hostile Charleston, South Carolina and presented his prize to the Union navy in 1862. This title is another tour de force for the McKissacks, and will significantly contribute to readers having a fuller appreciation of American history. A must-buy for schools and libraries, teachers should also take note of this book for their multi-cultural curriculums and school research projects. 1999, Scholastic Press, Ages 12 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Bruce Adelson
ISBN: 0-590-48313-7
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2000 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Fourteenth Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Carter G. Woodson Book Awards Honor 2000 Secondary United States
   Coretta Scott King Awards Honor Book 2000 United States
   Society of Midland Authors Book Awards Winner 2000 Juvenile Nonfiction United States

Bugs!
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
Illustrated by Mike Cressy
   With thirty-three words, this early reader introduces bugs and counting from one to five. The word bugs is repeated an appropriate number of times to match the number of bugs displayed in the scene. This is a book that will ensure success for young readers and one that I would have expected to be categorized as a level A rather than a B. The bugs are not named so teachers and parents may have to do a little homework to be able to answer the inevitable questions-what kind of bug is it? Although not a scientific term, bug is commonly used to identify insects or insect like invertebrate. A word list and information about the author and illustrator wrap up the book. Level B in the "Rookie Reader" series. 2000, Grolier, Ages 6 to 7, $17.50 and $4.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0-516-21658-9
ISBN: 0-516-27046-X

Can You Imagine
Patricia McKissack
Photographs by Myles Pinkney
  Can you imagine becoming a writer? Most young children cannot fathom the idea of themselves as writers, limiting such experiences to the paper that's due on Friday and how long it has to be. This working author autobiography allows readers to discover and meet McKissack, who wrote the Newberry Honor Book, The Dark Thirty. McKissack describes her life as a writer and how her imagination, as well as her family experiences, lead to her story ideas. She also reveals that her family is involved in helping her research writing topics and several have collaborated with her on books. Color photos allow students to trace McKissack's life from childhood to the present. Part of the "Meet the Author" series. 1997, Richard C. Owen Publishers, Ages 7 to 12, $13.95. Reviewer: Melinda Medley Sprinkle
ISBN: 1-878458-61-1

Carter G. Woodson: The Father of Black History
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
   This easy reader biography, part of the "Great African Americans" series, details the life of one of the pioneers of Black history. Carter G. Woodson was born in 1875. Both his mother and father had been born into slavery. Faced with one hardship after another, Woodson always managed to further his education, eventually earning his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His motto was, "It's never too late to learn." While teaching in the Philippines, Woodson came to the realization that very little African history was taught, even back home in America. Returning to the United States he determined that, "We will teach ourselves about ourselves," and pioneered the incorporation of Black history into American history. He was also instrumental in founding what is now known as Black History month. The revised edition of this simple yet effective biography includes black-and-white photographs, a timeline, glossary and index. Carter G. Woodson died in 1950. 2002 (orig. 1991), Enslow Publishers, $14.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviews: Christopher Moning
ISBN: 0-7660-1698-6

Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
Illustrated by John Thompson
  Details of holiday observances practiced by the wealthy residents as well as the slaves who lived on a large Virginia plantation in 1859 are shared through narrative, songs, recipes and glorious illustrations. The love of family and the bonds of traditions are made bittersweet by the tumultuous changes wrought by the upheavals inherent in the lives of the slaves and the impending wrenching changes wrought by war. The book is meticulously attendant to historical accuracy and never descends into an overly sentimental view. Detailed notes follow the text, with further interesting tidbits (for example, the phrase "sleep tight" refers to the rope slats supporting a mattress which must be tight to avoid uncomfortable sagging). Winner of the 1995 Coretta Scott King Award. 1994, Scholastic, Ages 12 up, $17.95. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen
ISBN: 0-590-43027-0
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Second Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Lasting Connections, 1994 ; American Library Association; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, October 1994 ; Cahners; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 1995 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 1995 Special Subjects United States
   Coretta Scott King Awards Winner 1995 Black Author United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Great Stone Face Award, 1995-1996 ; New Hampshire
   Maine Student Book Award, 1995-1996 ; Maine
   Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 1998 ; Illinois

Color Me Dark
Patricia C. McKissack
   This is the diary of Nellie Lee Love as she lived each day beginning on January 1, 1919. Nellie and her sister, Erma Jean, receive their diaries for Christmas. Nellie's diary chronicles the trials and tribulations of her family's life in Bradford Corners, Tennessee and later life in Chicago, Illinois. Traumatized by the death of her uncle, Erma Jean ceases to speak. All her communication with Nellie is through her diary that exposes the racial injustices in Tennessee and the family system within the Colored section. When word comes that there are opportunities in Chicago, the Love family moves. Thoughts of Tennessee haunt the girls as they slowly adjust to life in the big city. During the Chicago riots Erma Jean is again traumatized, but this time she regains her voice. McKissack has the family involved in the NAACP, suffrage and anti-lynching meetings and the Open Mind Church and Youth Center and through them relates plenty about life as it was in Chicago in the early 1900s. There are historical notes and photographs in this entry in the "Dear America" series. 2000, Scholastic Inc., Ages 10 to 14, $10.95. Reviewer: Karen Werner
ISBN: 0-590-51159-9
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural
Patricia McKissack
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
  This collection contains ten original ghost stories with African American themes ranging from the time of Slavery to the Civil Rights Era. Keeping with the oral storytelling tradition, these tales should be told at a special time called the dark-thirty--the half hour before sunset--when ghosts seem all too believable and shadows play tricks on the mind. Suspenseful, heart-stopping stories such as "Boo Mama," "The Chicken-Coop Monster," and "The Woman in the Snow" are accompanied by eerie black and white scratch-board illustrations. 1992, Alfred A. Knopf, Ages 8 up, $16.00 and $17.99. Reviewer: Debra Briatico
ISBN: 0-679-81863-4
ISBN: 0-679-91863-9
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, 1994 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1992 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 1993 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Coretta Scott King Awards Winner 1993 Black Author United States
   John Newbery Medal Honor Book 1993 United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Indian Paintbrush Book Award, 1995 ; Wyoming
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1994 ; Kentucky
   Prairie Pasque Award, 1995 ; South Dakota
   Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 1996 ; Illinois
   William Allen White Children's Book Award, 1994-1995 ; Kansas

The Games of Africa
Jennifer Prior
Illustrated by Sylvia Walker
Introduction by Patricia McKissack
  One of the greatest ways to learn about another culture is through play. Prior's The Games of Africa has playing parts and game directions for five famous African games, including mancala, yote, achi, sey, and the Guinean string puzzle. In addition to the instructions and strategy tips, the book includes plenty of fascinating information about the cultures and countries that are home to the games. 1994, HarperCollins, Ages 7 up, $17.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
ISBN: 0-694-00597-5

George Washington Carver: The Peanut Scientist
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
   This biography about Carver, a scientist best known for popularizing crop-rotation and the peanut crop in the United States, is a rare find. Well-written biographies on great African Americans are hard to come by, and herein lies the strength of the book. The story of Carver's life, from the time he was a young boy, is well documented by the authors. The simple text and the black-and-white photographs that accompany it make this book eminently suitable for early elementary students. Like all good reference books, this one also includes a timeline, a glossary, a bibliography and a list of websites to search for more information. Teachers and librarians will find this book invaluable. 2002 (orig. 1994), Enslow, $14.95. Ages 8 to 10. Reviewer: Shalini Murthy
ISBN: 0-7660-1700-1

Goin' Someplace Special
Patricia C. McKissack
Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney
   'Tricia Ann endures the indignities of segregation in the 1950s South, fortified with the love of her family and friends. As a Negro, she must sit at the back of the bus. Because of Jim Crow laws, she can only sit in the back of the balcony at the theater. When a crowd rushes into a plush downtown hotel following a celebrity, 'Tricia Ann is caught up in the throng-and then thrown out of the all-white establishment. She tolerates all of these insults because she is on her way to Someplace Special. That someplace is full of good things and it welcomes all people. That place is the Public Library. Based on McKissack's early life in Nashville, Tennessee, this is a story about how unfair life can be-and how love and persistence can triumph over injustice. Artwork is rendered in pencil and watercolor on paper by artist Jerry Pinkney, the only illustrator to have won the Coretta Scott King Award five times including the 2002 Award for this book. 2001, Atheneum Books, Ages 4 to 8, $16.00. Reviewer: Chris Gill
ISBN: 0-689-81885-8
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2002 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Books for Children, 2002 ; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 2002 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 2002 Picture Books United States
   Coretta Scott King Awards Winner 2002 Illustrator United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominees, 2003 ; Maryland
   Colorado Children's Book Award List, 2003 ; Colorado
   Delaware Diamonds, 2003 ; Delaware
   Georgia Children's Literature Awards, 2003 ; Georgia
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 2003 ; Kentucky
   Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award, 2004 ; Louisiana
   North Carolina Children's Book Award, 2003 ; North Carolina
   Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award, 2002-2003 ; Pennsylvania
   Texas Bluebonnet Award, 2004 ; Texas

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth
Patricia McKissack
Illustrations by Giselle Potter
   Libby "was surprised at how easy the lie slid out of her mouth, like it was greased with warm butter." Libby is caught not telling the truth and her Mama punishes her. From that day on, Libby vows "From now on, only the truth..." Unfortunately, as Libby soon learns, the truth can sometimes be hurtful and she ends up alienating her best friend, classmates and her favorite neighbor Miz Tusselbury. The humorous illustrations have a folk-art quality, and they make this lesson for young kids quite palatable. Libby and other young readers will get a better understanding of just how and when one should say truthful things, while never losing sight that "the honest-to-goodness truth is never wrong." 2000, Atheneum, Ages 4 to 8, $16.00. Reviewer: Charles Wyman
ISBN: 0-689-82668-0
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2001 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, January 2000 ; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal: Best Books, 2000 ; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor 2000 Language Arts - Picture Books United States
   Storytelling World Awards Honor 2001 Stories for Young Listeners United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Golden Sower Award, 2001-2002 ; Nebraska
   Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award, 2001-2002 ; Pennslyvania
   Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 2003 ; Virginia

Ida B. Wells-Barnett: A Voice Against Violence
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
   Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born three years before the Civil War ended, but still had to live through very turbulent times in the southern states. She was lucky enough to be able to receive a full education and to enjoy some of the freedoms that were granted African-Americans after the Civil War. But she also endured the hardships that were enacted under Jim Crow laws in the south. Wells-Barnett was a very intelligent woman, and she worked hard to educate others. For a short time she was a teacher, but after witnessing and suffering discrimination, she began to work to get laws passed that would protect the rights of all citizens of the United States. She lectured about violence that African-Americans faced, and she also worked for women's suffrage. Wells-Barnett lived a full and eventful life, marrying and giving birth to seven children while still working hard for causes she believed in. The McKissacks provide a heady glimpse at a strong and courageous woman. Easy to read and fully illustrated with pictures from Wells-Barnett times, as well as several portraits, the book also includes a timeline, a glossary, sources to consult for more information and an index. Part of the "Great African-Americans" series. 2001, Enslow Publishers, Ages 7 to 10, $14.95. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
ISBN: 0-7660-1677-3
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor 2001 Social Studies: K-6 United States

The Inca
Patricia McKissack
  Did you know that the Inca built highways and suspension bridges without the help of wheels and work animals? And did you know that they mummified kings like the Egyptians and killed the household servants to bury them along with the king? Learn about these and many other fascinating facts related to the Inca, both historical and contemporary. One title in the "A New True Book" series, this informational picture book uses sketches, painting and photographs to convey ideas about the Inca's agricultural, religious and cultural practices. Particularly useful are the book's discussion of the devastating confrontation between the Inca Empire and the Spanish in the 1500s and its explanation of survival of some of those people from whom the modern Inca descended. These aspects along with McKissack's inclusion of a supplementary glossary of unfamiliar terms would make this an appropriate and interesting addition to a lesson on Latin cultures. 1985, Children's Press, Ages 6 to 10, $5.50. Reviewer: Michelle H. Martin
ISBN: 0-516-41268-X

Jesse Owens: Olympic Star
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
   With its large print, many black-and-white photos and picture book format, this biography of Jesse Owens can be read by young and/or reluctant readers. The five brief chapters cover his childhood, teen and college sports, the Berlin Olympics and his life after the Olympics, when, for a time he was "the most famous person in the entire world." Although necessarily brief and simplified, the authors tend to emphasize the social implications of Jesse Owens' life and accomplishments. While laudatory and upbeat, the book does not ignore the more sad or controversial aspects of his life. This revised edition of the 1992 book is part of the "Great African Americans" series. 2001 (orig. 1992), Enslow, Ages 6 to 10, $14.95. Reviewer: Gisela Jernigan
ISBN: 0-7660-1681-1

Langston Hughes: Great American Poet
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
   Originally published in 1992, this biography has been updated by the McKissacks who have revisited the life of Langston Hughes. Readers learn about his father's desertion of the family when after studying law and learning that African Americans could not practice in Oklahoma; he went to Mexico where he felt better opportunities existed. Langston and his mother struggled to make ends meet and Langston spent many years with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas. He learned about great African-American heroes. In the meantime, Langston's father had become fairly wealthy in Mexico and offered to pay for Langston's education at Columbia, but Langston really didn't enjoy college. Harlem and the African-American community were a bigger draw. In 1925 he was "discovered" and the next year he won a prize for his first book of poems. He never stopped writing and died at the age of 65. Even today people are rediscovering and enjoying his poems. This book has a timeline, words to know section, and a list of references that are reasonably current as well as several Internet addresses. There is an index. 2002, Enslow, $14.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0-7660-1695-1

Let My People Go
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
   Twelve Bible tales are retold by a freeman of color, Price Jefferies, to his daughter Charlotte. The stories clearly show the similarities between the plight of the African-American slaves and the Jews. The approach the McKissacks have taken allows them to relate the Biblical stories that were the solace of many slaves and to delve as well into the issues of slavery and life in Charleston during the early 1800s. Ransome's illustrations beautifully depict Jefferies at his forge and in other facets of his life. In addition, he has painted glorious illustrations of scenes from the Bible-such as Joseph, at thirty, standing on the steps of Pharaoh's palace with his brothers kneeling before him, and dramatic pictures of Queen Esther. The stories are told in the speech of the day, yet there is no problem understanding the text. Notes and references round out the book. 1998, Atheneum, Ages 5 up, $20.00. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0-689-80856-9
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 1999 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Capitol Choices, 1998 ; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   The Children's Literature Choice List, 1999 ; Children's Literature; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   South Carolina Book Awards, 2001 ; South Carolina

Ma Dear's Aprons
Patricia C. McKissack
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
  Little David knows what day of the week it is by the apron his mother wears. Each day of the week and the strenuous chores Ma undertakes are described in this wonderful book, Through David's eye and his mother's aprons, young readers will learn about the hard life of African-Americans living in the South in the late 1800s. But what really shines through is the strong love between a mother and her son. 1997, Atheneum Books, Ages 3 to 12, $16.00. Reviewer: Rebecca Joseph
ISBN: 0-689-81051-2
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Third Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Lasting Connections, 1997 ; American Library Association; United States
   Notable Books for a Global Society, 1998 ; International Reading Association; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1997 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1998 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Charlotte Zolotow Award Commended 1998 United States

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
   This revised edition of the McKissacks' simple and eloquent biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provides a just-right introduction to the man's life, times and legacy for emerging chapter book readers. The authors deftly trace King's life from his childhood in Atlanta, where he was nicknamed "Tweed" for his fondness of tweed suits, through his nonviolent struggle for civil rights. Included are the Montgomery, Alabama, bus strike following Rosa Park's arrest for non-compliance with segregation laws, the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, his "I have a dream" speech, his award of the Nobel Peace Prize and finally his tragic assassination. This is an inspirational presentation of King's achievements, avoiding discussion of any complexities or controversies over King's character (as seems appropriate for this age group of readers). Children should come away from it both humbled and inspired by the power of one man's vision to overcome injustice. Attractively illustrated with black-and-white photographs (including a starkly striking one of a segregated trolley car), the book also includes a helpful time line, glossary, bibliography and index. 2001 (orig. 1991), Enslow, Ages 7 to 11, $14.95. Reviewer: Claudia Mills
ISBN: 0-7660-1678-1

Messy Bessey's Garden
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
Illustrated by Dana Regan
   Little Miss Bessey sees it is spring and now she can plant her garden. What types of seeds will she pick? It looks like carrots, peas, beets, tomatoes, and pumpkins are the choices. After preparing the soil and planting, Miss Bessey waters them. What Bessey learns is that plants need help to grow--they need water, weeds must be pulled and then the garden will grow. When fall arrives Bess (note name change) displays her bounty of ripe tomatoes, carrots, and pumpkins. It is a fairly clear presentation of the gardening process and makes it evident that to obtain good crops and a rich harvest, there is work required. There are 71 unique words and brief write-ups about the author and illustrator in this Level C "Rookie Reader." 2002, Children's Press/Scholastic, $19.00 and $4.95. Ages 5 to 7. Reviews: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0516224913

Paul Robeson: A Voice to Remember
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
   Growing up in segregated America of the early 1900s, Paul Robeson experienced prejudice firsthand. A good student and athlete, Paul was invited to attend Rutgers College on a scholarship. He played football despite prejudicial acts against him, but he also excelled in his studies. After completing his undergraduate degree, Paul completed his law degree, but left the profession when he realized that as a black American he would not receive fair treatment. Disillusioned, Paul and his wife moved to Europe where Paul became a successful actor and vocalist. In post World War II America, Paul spoke out against the unjust treatment of African Americans and was "black-listed" by anti-Communist politicians. His international travel was banned for several years, but in 1958, Paul won his court case against the ban and was allowed to travel once again. His fight for just treatment for his fellow African Americans made him a champion of civil rights. The McKissacks have given Robeson a voice and a presence among the great African American freedom fighters. This revised edition, generously illustrated with black-and-white photographs, is part of the series, "Great African Americans" and contains a table of contents, a timeline of important events, a glossary, further readings and an index. BIBLIO: 2001 (orig. 1992), Ages 7 to 10, Enslow, $14.95. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
ISBN: 0-7660-1674-9

Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba
Patricia McKissack
   This entertaining piece of historical fiction recreates the year 1595 to 1596 in the life of a young African princess destined to become a queen in what is now Angola. Nzingha keeps a diary in Portuguese in order to become familiar with her enemy's ways. This journal traces the year before and including her coming of age at 13. Though she is the first child of the king of Ndongo, her mother was a slave and an outsider, which precludes Nzingha from becoming the heir to her father's kingdom. Her rivalry with her half brother (the "heir apparent"), her budding natural leadership, and her cunning as an ambassador to the Portuguese spin out a fascinating story. A key moment is when she uses one of her guards as a bench so that she is on a level with the seated governor. An epilogue wraps up Nzingha's life of 82 years, whereby she becomes Ngola of Ndongo and later Queen of Matamba, ever defying the Portuguese petitions for slaves. A historical note of life in Africa in 1595, a section on the Ngola family tree, photos, maps, pronunciation guide, and glossary complete this educational book in "The Royal Diaries" series. 2000, Scholastic Inc., Ages 8 to 14, $10.95 and $14.99. Reviewer: Carol Raker Collins
ISBN: 0-439-11210-9
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2001 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United Statess

Ralph J. Bunche: Peacemaker
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
   Ralph Bunche is not nearly the household name that many African Americans are, but he is a worthy example of great achievement in the face of adversity. "Being poor had not stopped Ralph. Losing his parents had not stopped him. The color of his skin had not stopped him. What a wonderful world!" The last sentence, repeated several times in the book, is simplistic even for the youngest readers, in light of the realities that confronted Bunche and others of his generation. Details about the circumstances of his parents' premature death and a few more comments about the experience of being the only African-American in his 1922 high school graduating class would have been helpful. Most of the text is probably below the reading level of students who would be interested in the complex ideals of the United Nations and Arab-Israeli peace that Bunch championed. However, the book could work well with older students at a low reading level. There are many good black-and-white photos, including several of Bunche's children and his trip to his ancestral homeland in Kenya. Bunche's story demonstrates the ability of one man to make a difference on the world stage even while he confronts discrimination in his home country. The "Great African-American" series identifies itself as a series "about African Americans who have done great things for our country and for the world"--Marian Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Mary McLeod Bethune, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Martin Luther King, Jr, Jesse Owens, Satchel Paige, Paul Robeson, Mary Church Terrell, Sojourner Truth, Madam C. J. Walker, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Carter G. Woodson. Each title includes a short index, glossary and list of resources. 2002, Enslow, $14.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
ISBN: 076601701X

Rebels Against Slavery: American Slave Revolts
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack
  "Slavery is as old as recorded history and so are slave rebellions." So begins the introduction to this fascinating history of the resistance to slavery in North America. We learn of rebels known and unknown, lauded and unsung. Some of the names are familiar: Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, John Brown. Others are less well known, but their stories are no less compelling: in Haiti, Toussaint Louverture; in South Carolina, Denmark Vesey; in Virginia, Gabriel Prosser and his brothers. Perhaps most arresting of all, on the high seas aboard the slave ship Armistad and then in the courtroom, there is the man known as Cinque, who brought to his struggle the dignity and courage of his Mende upbringing. The stories of all these people, and so many more (Maroon and Seminole, abolitionist and Quaker) are told in clear and riveting narrative. A bibliography, index and chronology are useful additions. 1996, Scholastic Hardcover, Ages 9 and up, $14.95. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
ISBN: 0-590-45735-7
Best Books:
   Best of the Best Revisited (100 Best Books for Teens), 2001 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Coretta Scott King Awards Honor Book 1997 United States

Red-Tail Angels: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
  Finally recording the little-known but crucially important contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII, the McKissacks provide under one cover a wealth of information. Their research took them to materials held by the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the National Air and Space Museum, andmany other place. They give due credit to a group of nearly forgotten African-American servicemen between 1900-1948. The book's introduction provides a brief synopsis of African-Americans' fight to be admitted into the American military and to receive treatment and salary equal with that of their white counterparts. Black and white archival photographs and details of political decisions throughout the text make the reader aware of the impact that the Red-Tailed Angels had not only on desegregation in the military but also in civilian society. By flying hundreds of successful missions over Europe and North Africa, and by maintaining the reputation of never having lost a bomber that they escorted, this group of airmen changed the oft held perception that African-Americans were not smart or disciplined enough to succeed as airmen. This rich resource will likely be an eye-opening experience even for readers who consider themselves knowledgeable about African-American history. 1995, Walker, Ages 9 up, $19.95 and $20.85. Reviewer: Michelle H. Martin
ISBN: 0-8027-8292-2
ISBN: 0-8027-8293-0
Best Books:
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Second Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1995 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 1996 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Carter G. Woodson Book Awards Outstanding Merit Book 1996 Secondary United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1997 ; Kentucky
   Maine Student Book Award, 1997-1998 ; Maine

Run Away Home
Patricia C. McKissack
  In rural Alabama, in 1888, Sarah finds a young Apache boy hiding in her barn and dying from swamp fever. Skye escaped from a train en route to a Florida reservation. Sarah and her mother nurse him to health. Skye becomes a member of their family and unites both the Native Americans and blacks of the nearby communities to stand against the white supremacists of that time. Using both historical documents from that time, and the oral history of her own family, McKissack has spun a compelling tale of this time period and these remarkable people. 1997, Scholastic Press, Ages 10 to 14, $14.95. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
  This post Civil War story by Patricia McKissack was inspired by queries about her ancestry. McKissack writes about eleven-year-old Sarah Crossman who rescues Sky, an ailing Apache boy who fled from a train headed for the reservation. This leads to a more difficult life in 1888 Alabama where Sarah's black parents already fear white supremacists, boll weevils, and losing their land. However, Sky opens hearts and minds, bringing the joy of independence to the troubled family and, later, to the entire African-American community. 1997, Scholastic, Ages 8 to 12, $14.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
ISBN: 0-590-46751-4
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Third Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1997 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1998 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Smithsonian Magazine's Notable Books for Children, 1997 ; Smithsonian; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 1998 ; International Reading Association; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award Reading List, 1999-2000 ; Arkansas
   Mark Twain Award, 1999-2000 ; Missouri
   Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award, 1999-2000 ; Pennsylvania
   South Carolina Book Awards, 2000 ; South Carolina

Satchel Paige: The Best Arm in Baseball
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
   One has the impression that it was hard not to like Satchel Paige. He was tall and slender and had a genius for throwing a baseball. At twelve he was sent to the Industrial School for Negro Children at Mount Meigs, Alabama. It was a reform school. He'd been stealing. Paige said it was the best thing that ever happened to him. "I was running around with the wrong crowd." He learned to play baseball at Mount Meigs and he learned to play it very well. He is considered by many to be the greatest pitcher of his era, but he was African American and, for most of his long career, he was kept out of the white leagues. He lived in what has come to be called the "Jim Crow" years in American history, the years in which people of color were expected to defer to whites in every way. That it lasted as long as it did is a national disgrace. That people like Satchel Paige found a way to thrive in it is a triumph. This book tells his story. Part of the "Great African Americans" series. 2002, Enslow Publishers, $14.95. Ages 8 to 11. Reviewer: Michael Chabin
ISBN: 0-7660-1699-4

Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
  This is a rich biography because of the dynamic energy and brilliance of its subject. Sojourner may have been illiterate, she had to dictate her autobiography, but she spoke dramatically and sincerely from first-hand experience. Her wit and wisdom are still applicable. She spoke out for all who were oppressed, both slaves and women. Six feet tall, dressed in black, she had a presence that made people take notice. Her famous "...and ain't I a woman" speech is still a powerhouse. She is a woman for all time. 1994 (orig. 1992), Scholastic, Ages 11 to 14, $13.95. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman
ISBN: 0-590-44690-8
Best Books:
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, 1994 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1992 ; Cahners; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 1993 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Boston Globe--Horn Book Awards Winner 1993 Nonfiction United States

Young, Black, and determined : a biography of Lorraine Hansberry
Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack
   American playwright, essayist, and activist Lorraine Hansberry is repeatedly described here as "young, black, and determined." Born during the Depression to parents active in the African-American political movement of the time, Lorraine was raised with strong sentiment towards civil rights and the importance of passing on her rich heritage; sentiment that she would further develop and devote her entire life to pursuing. It was at the University of Wisconsin, then predominantly white, that she discovered drama and her writing and activism began to flourish. Lorraine would go on to become a prominent figure in the theater as well as history. This is a well-written, thorough account of a short, but well-lived life that offers readers the benefit of her wisdom. 1998, Holiday House, $18.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Sheree Van Vreede
ISBN: 0-8234-1300-4
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Third Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

Zora Neale Hurston, Writer and Storyteller
Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
   Zora is the least known of the writers of the Harlem Renaissance. But thanks to Alice Walker, another African American writer, her stories and her life are being remembered. She was born in Eatonville, Florida, an all black town founded in 1886. She left home during her teen years because she did not get along with her father and his new wife. She managed to finish high school and began to attend Howard University. During her two years there she wrote her first short story, "John Redding Goes to Sea." Once it was published she realized that she could become a writer. During the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s, she went to New York and was discovered by white patrons who encouraged her to continue writing. In fact, one patron helped her get into Barnard College. At that time, she was the only African American woman in Barnard. She graduated from Barnard in 1938 and continued to write. As a child she often listened to people tell the stories of their lives. To gather material for her stories she traveled extensively throughout the South, Central America, South America, Haiti and Jamaica. Other African American writers criticized her for her style of writing because she recorded people's stories in their language, many times simplistic, sometimes grammatically incorrect and often poetic. Had she not done this, much of the folklore, which included customs and beliefs of many cultures, would have been lost. In spite of her prolific writing she died alone and poor in Florida, January 28, 1960. 2002, Enslow Publishers, $14.95. Ages 8 to 10. Reviewer: Leila Toledo
ISBN: 0-7660-1694-3

 

Added 5/18/04

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