Parents' Guide to

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Inspirational bios of trailblazing African American women.

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Forty short but inspiring profiles are paired with cute kid art in this solid collection celebrating trailblazing African American women. The bios in Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History are clearly and engagingly written. Author-illustrator Vashti Harrison covers ground quickly so readers get the overview, but she also spices the profiles with choice details that humanize the figures. For instance, when sculptor Augusta Savage grew up in Florida, she made little animals out of the red clay in her backyard. Harrison curates a good mix, with some figures well known and others new to readers, though readers may miss some of their own favorites. For instance, writers are well represented, but there's no Toni Morrison, who won both the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Harrison acknowledges that she missed many, and shares a list of her own additions at the end.

Harrison's illustrations are kid-friendly, and she says she made the faces interchangeable "because I want you, the reader, to see yourself in any one of them." Each figure is pictured as a child, with the same round face, eyes closed or modestly downcast, which makes them look demurely "good girl," an odd choice for firebrands like Harriet Tubman and Angela Davis. Still, the collection is eye-opening and offers mighty inspiration for young girls of color -- and all girls -- to distinguish themselves.

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