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

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells

Spring 2008 Non-Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Phillip Dray
Illustrator: Stephen Alcorn
ISBN: 978-1-56145-417-4
Hardcover Price: $18.95
Not until the afterword in this picture book biography do we learn that the title is actually the line Ida B. Wells used above her signature in correspondence…an interesting fact that might well have been moved to a more prominent position in the text itself. The format and the content are clearly designed for a young audience-lynching is identified as "murder" without any graphic details; Ida is simply described as "frightened" when she is physically ejected from a first-class railroad car-thus filling a gap (most of the books about this seminal figure are for older readers). The tight focus in the second half of the book on her crusade against lynching-arguably her most famous accomplishment-also means that other aspects of her life (her involvement in women's suffrage; her work fighting segregation in public schools; her run for the senate in Illinois) are noted only in the back matter. The text is chronological, but there are few dates mentioned (her birth in 1862, a lynching in 1892, and her death in 1931) creating a slightly unanchored sense of history floating in a vacuum (although a detailed time line, again in the back matter, helps rectify this). The highly stylized cubist-inspired illustrations form a sophisticated counterpoint to the matter-of-fact text adding drama and emphasis to every page.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 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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