Friday, March 24, 2017

Just Us Books and Marimba Books Announce New Titles for Spring 2017

Just Us Books and Marimba Books, leading independent publishers of multicultural books for children and young adults, will release five titles this spring:

Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present
by Gilbert L. Robertson, IV
Paperback, 80 pages
Ages 8-12 

The highly anticipated fourth installment of the Book of Black Heroes series, Political Leaders Past and Present, spotlights African American who have made valuable contributions in U. S. governmental leadership.Included are Hiram Revels, P.B.S. Pinchback and Robert Smalls, among the first African Americans to hold political offices, Oscar De Priest and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, who served during the Jim Crow period as well as Edward M. Brooke, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, John Lewis, John Conyers, Carl Stokes , and others who emerged during the 1960s on the heels of major civil rights legislation that gave millions of African American the right to vote. New political leaders are also featured, including Keith Ellison, Kamala Harris, Tim Scott and Mia Love. Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present contains celebrates 150 years of African-American leadership, profiling nearly four dozen Black U.S>, local and state representatives, mayors, governors, members of Congress, and the nation's first Black president - all of whom helped make and shape history.

"Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present" profiles more than four dozen black U.S. local and state representatives, mayors, members of Congress, and, of course, Barack Hussain Obama, the nation's first black president . Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Book of Black Heroes" is unreservedly recommended for personal, school, and community library Black History, American History, and Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists.  Midwest Book Review

I'm A Big Brother Now   
by Katura J. Hudson
Illustrated by Sylvia L. Walker
Paperback, 32 pages
Ages 4-8
Being a big brother is a big job. It takes a lot of work and patience, but it s a lot of fun, too. This charming picture book explores the anticipation, excitement, and pride of a young boy who takes on this important new role as he helps to welcome a new baby into the family.

A little black boy revels in filling “one of the most important roles in the family”—big brother.

The little boy, who looks to be about 4 or 5, tells readers how he helped Mommy and Daddy before the baby arrived, how he waited with Grandma while his parents were at the hospital, and how he adapts to the new family member. Hudson lays out a best-case scenario for her narrator and his family: he helps with apparently unflagging cheer. He proudly shares that he “knew how to dial 911 and call Daddy if the baby came early,” a detail absent from most baby-on-the-way books that’s presented matter-of-factly and without alarmism. Although the narrator is very close to a big-brother ideal, he does express disgust with “stinky diapers,” frustration with “people telling me to SHHHH because the baby is sleeping,” and disappointment when a parent can’t play because “I have to take care of the baby.” By the end of the book, the narrator understands more fully the role of big brother and is able knowledgeably to answer “Good” when “Daddy asks how my new job is going.” Walker’s airy watercolors evince on every page the love the members of this comfortably middle-class, all-black family feel for one another. Next to them, the bold, sans-serif typeface can look jarring, but it has the advantage of being easy to read for children transitioning into independence.

There’s plenty of room on the new-baby shelf for this sturdy big brother. (Picture book. 4-8)   Kirkus

 I Love To...Sights I Love to See
by Cheryl Willis Hudson
Illustrated by Laura Freeman
Paperback, 24 pages
Ages 4-7

In this engaging, multicultural series, see, feel and explore the world of irresistible youngsters from different cultural backgrounds as they share people, places and things that are important to them. Share a close-up view of nature through the eyes of a little girl as she goes about her daily activities in Sights I Love to See.
A new title in the popular I Love To series.

A brown-skinned girl with straight, black hair who lives in what looks to be the American Southwest lists the “wonderful sights I love to see.”
From rainbows and clouds to birthday-cake candles and jelly beans, the unnamed narrator celebrates what she sees. Most are natural phenomena—dewdrops, an earthworm, flowers in spring—but other choices reveal an imaginative bent: “Reflections in a silver spoon. / The man who’s winking in the moon.” Freeman places Hudson’s narrator in a desert landscape with saguaros and weathered buttes. One quietly dramatic double-page spread depicts the narrator from above as she crouches on the parched earth, studying “An army of ants on the move. / A blade of grass in a sandy groove.” Given this concrete sense of place, the abrupt transition from one page to an ocean beach and from another to the unlikely image of snowflakes drifting down onto the desert from a partly cloudy sky are incongruous. The child’s specific ethnicity is not provided, but an image of the narrator’s brother hiding behind an earthenware jar and another of the child with an adult, both wrapped in a bright, woven blanket, hint at an indigenous heritage. A further image of the child in a thoroughly modern bathtub makes clear that this child and her family are thriving in the present day.  (Picture book. 3-5)   Kirkus Reviews

I Love to...Friends I Love to Keep
written by Wade Hudson
illustrated by Laura Freeman
Paperback 24 pages

In this engaging, multicultural series, see, feel and explore the world Illustrated by Laura Freeman of irresistible youngsters from different cultural backgrounds as they share people, places and things that are important to them.  Friends can be our next door neighbors, classmates, or someone new in the community. They can be introduced to us through books, social gatherings or by other friends. A friend is a person whose company we enjoy. Read along and recognize Friends I Love to Keep!
A new title in the popular I Love too series.

Friends I Love to Keep depicts an energetic black girl in a comfortable, middle-class setting with a multiracial group of friends.

A bright and bubbly outing with an infectiously cheerful protagonist. (Picture book. 3-5)   Kirkus Reviews

We Could Be Brothers - available May 2017
By Derrick Barnes
Paperback, 176 pages
Ages 9-12

In this middle grade novel by Derrick Barnes (Ruby & the Booker Boys), two thirteen- year-old African-American boys become friends during a three-day stint in an after-school suspension. They were both involved in two unrelated incidents with the same person, the resident menace at Alain Locke Middle, Tariq Molten. Robeson Battlefield is from a two-parent household, where both parents are highly successful and educated. Academic achievement, social consciousness and responsibility are reinforced daily in the Battlefield household. Pacino Clapton comes from a single parent household; his mom works two fulltime jobs. Pacino has a ton of responsibilities, including cutting hair to help pay bills, and taking care of his twin five- year-old sisters. During this three-day span, the young men visit each other's home, and chop it up on a multitude of subjects including respect of self and Black women, the dire state of hip-hop music, the use of the dreaded N word, and masculinity. Before long, the three boys are on a collision course. And when they do intersect, their lives are changed forever. We Could Brothers addresses the presence and lack of positive male leadership in the home, and how it dictates the way young African American men view themselves, each other, and the world around them. Mentorship, brotherhood, and an emphasis on that old adage each-one-teach-one; are very real and tangible themes in this middle grade literary masterpiece. 

(Originally published by Scholastic, Inc. Re-released by Just Us Books under its Sankofa Books Imprint.)

In after-school detention for the first time, high-achiever Robeson meets and bonds with a fellow eighth-grader, tough Pacino, who hides his good grades and laughs at Robeson s geeky ways. They both hate their gangster classmate, Tariq, who threatens them, and tension mounts as they begin to wonder if Tariq has a gun. Weaving together the very different lives of three African American kids at school and home in their Kansas town, this fast-paced novel will grab readers with its anger, humor, and tenderness. Pacino has never seen his dad, and with his brother in prison, he cares for his little sisters while his mom works two jobs. In total contrast, Robeson lives in a huge, fancy house, while Tariq, shuttled between group homes, has almost nothing. Despite the many confrontations, there is no obscenity; in fact, Robeson is passionately against blacks using the n-word. The messages are occasionally heavy, and Pacino speaks for the reader when he tells Robeson to quit quoting his perfect dad. Still, even reluctant readers will be swept up in this contemporary teen drama. Grades 5-8 Booklist

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Remembering Mari Evans

A poet, a pioneer, a power has made her transition. Mari Evans, a major figure of the Black Arts Movement, passed away on March 10, 2017. Hailed a 'people's poet,' Mari Evans' tremendous work helped to inspire ours. We were honored to publish her work, to have her as a member of our Just Us Books family, and to have her as a friend. We will miss you Mari.

Wade Hudson shares more about Mari Evans' influence in his 2015 birthday tribute to Sister Mari.