Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Keep Climbing, Girls

Keep Climbing, Girls

Spring 2006 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Beah Richards
Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie
ISBN: 1416902643
Hardcover Price: $15.95
The poem which forms the text of this book is taken from Beah E. Richard's only published collection of verses entitled A Black Woman Speaks and was, according to the introduction, a part of Richard's repertoire performed at “concerts and political rallies around the country throughout her career.” Its staccato rhythms give it all the drama of a mini-play: a young girl climbs to the “toppermost” branches of a tree and an increasingly exasperated Miss Nettie (a teacher? a relative?) appears at the door (of a house? of a school?) to demand that she come down. Young readers may be puzzled (or even a bit disappointed) by the abrupt shift at the end when they spy a penitent child with her head bowed through a cross-paned window, until they turn the final page and see the girl's slantwise glance at a tree even though her feet are firmly planted in the road. The strong impressionistic landscapes full of tilted trees, the wildly varied perspectives, and the daubed-in figures lend a kind of kinetic energy appropriate to the performance nature of the work. This is a picture book for older readers and its call to action may resonate with today's young women who need to climb their own metaphorical if not actual trees.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2006 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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