It’s Her Story

Rosa Parks; Marie Curie.
Sunbird. Nov. 2020; Jan. 2021. ISBN 9781503752948; ISBN 9781503752931.
Gr 3-5–Kicking off a new series of graphic biographies, these compact profiles offer quietly respectful overviews of the lives and achievements of two of the 20th century’s most iconic female role models. Chronicling the life of Marie Curie, Kallen uses a contemporary idiom (“I’m OK with studying hard,” declares young Marie Sklodowska) and gives due attention to the contributions of Curie’s husband and daughters along with her own discoveries, medical work in World War I, and later achievements at the renowned Radium Institute. Kallen broadens Curie’s skill set by viewing her as “not only an extraordinary scientist” but also “a clever communicator and manager.” Though Burke makes a common but incorrect assertion that Abraham Lincoln freed all enslaved people, she likewise presents a similarly well-rounded picture of her subject; in her book, a modern child asks her grandmother who Rosa Parks was and gets an earful that tracks the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” from birth to bus seat, and then on to a long life of behind-the-scenes political activism. Parks’s features change along with her body as she matures in Clester’s cartoon scenes, but she remains recognizable; in Baker’s neatly drawn panels Curie looks like an adult and barely ages from first page to last. If neither figure displays a great range of emotion, they do both exude winning dignity and intelligence. Who wouldn’t want to, as Parks herself urged, be kind, be brave, and “do one tiny thing” to change the world?
VERDICT The lack of back matter makes these less offerings suitable for research than other resources, but they make inspiring character studies for readers in elementary grades.

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