28 Nov

What do they say about What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?

It’s been several weeks since I last compiled news about What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster).

Considering that the book has been out in the world for just over two months, that means I’ve essentially been neglecting my most recent book for more than half its life.

So, let’s correct that with this roundup.

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? has been named a 2019 Orbis Pictus Recommended Book by the National Council of Teachers of English.

The California Reading Association has listed it as a 2018 Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Awards Honor Book.

Kirkus Reviews has named What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? among the best picture books of 2018, and at Waking Brain Cells, Tasha Saecker has compiled those books into a single, easy-to-read list.

Houston’s Blue Willow Bookshop has included the book in its list of the 25 best books of 2018 across all categories, recommending the book “For every school and library in Texas, as well as family bookshelves.”

The Nonfiction Detectives write:

In this age of partisan, negative politics, Barbara Jordan is a model of dignity, civility and justice. What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? is the perfect read aloud to inspire children to speak up and use their voices to help others and to make the world a better place.

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

Using her sonorous voice for good, she participates in the Watergate hearings, speaks out for equality and justice, and fights for the powerless. Bright mixed-media art, as strong and stately as Jordan herself, helps chronicle her setbacks and successes, both personal and political.

In The Christian Century, Baylor University theologian Beverly Roberts Gaventa writes:

[T]he book instructs its readers about an extraordinary woman, but it also invites them to find their own voices and put them to use to make the world a better place. I need to give myself a copy, since my grandson is tired of loaning me his.

(If you want to read only my favorite final line in any recent review, you can stop right there.)

The Horn Book writes:

This large book, with its lush, vivid, mixed-media illustrations, makes an artistic statement as bold as groundbreaking African American congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s own giant voice. Smart page-turns — often prompted by a series of questions and frequently repeating the titular one — lead readers to think about, rather than simply learn about, Jordan’s life.

The Austin American-Statesman says:

Barton’s “Voice” showcases Jordan as a trailblazer who always championed what was right, such as in her famous speech during President Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings, when she vowed that she would not “sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”

The New York Times includes the book in a roundup of

several immersive picture books about women leaders. The standout books of the bunch tell the stories of two remarkable women of color. In WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A VOICE LIKE THAT? (Beach Lane, 48 pp., $17.99; ages 4 to 8), a biography of Representative Barbara Jordan written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Ekua Holmes, we go from Jordan’s modest upbringing in Houston to her civil rights activism to the halls of Congress and back to Texas after a multiple sclerosis diagnosis takes her out of public life. All the way, Jordan’s distinct “big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice” guides us.

(I can’t wait to get my hands on Martha Brockenborough’s Unpresidented. I see her book and mine as complementary and equally necessary. Teens can benefit from both. And readers of all ages deserve truth and honesty.)

Barnes & Noble says of Barbara Jordan’s story:

The chronicle of her rise is thrilling, but the next chapter of her life is just as instructive: when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she came home to Texas and kept giving to others, as a teacher.

The Alcalde — the alumni magazine for the University of Texas, where I got my degree and where Barbara Jordan taught — says:

Accompanied by brilliantly detailed collages from artist and illustrator Ekua Holmes, the book explores Jordan’s legacy in the realm of civil rights and equality. Meant to educate and inspire young readers, Barton showcases Jordan’s milestones as a lawyer and politician, as well as the obstacles she overcame on her path to success.

In PW Shelftalker, bookseller Cynthia Compton includes the book in her roundup of recent titles with themes of voice or voicelessness.

Ekua Holmes’ illustrations have landed What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? on Mock Caldecott lists overseen by Megan Dowd Lambert, Michele Knott, and John Schumacher and Colby Sharp.

And over at Kid Lit Frenzy, Alyson Beecher has added What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? to her Mock Sibert list.

Thank you, one and all, for your appreciation for this book, and for all the ways — public and otherwise — that you’ve expressed it. If you’re ever wondering if an author might like to hear kind words about their new (or old) book, the answer is always “Yes!”

29 Nov

Orbis Pictus and “Best of 2017” honors for Dazzle Ships

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for all of us who had a hand in Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion, written by me, illustrated by Victo Ngai, and published earlier this year by Millbrook Press.

At the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English in St. Louis, Dazzle Ships was named one of five Honor Books for the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.

(The top prize went to Grand Canyon, created by author-illustrator Jason Chin. Jason and I were two seats away from each other when we heard the news. At the time, he and I were participating on a panel — briefly interrupted — with fellow authors Tonya Bolden and Gail Jarrow about the creation of back matter in nonfiction books. Back matter, it turns out, is a key consideration in the awarding of the Orbis Pictus.)

There been other good news for Dazzle Ships: It’s been included in a few year-end “Best of” lists. Among them:

The creation of such lists of honored and recommended new books is a serious undertaking, and the results can be a goldmine for families and educators. I appreciate the efforts that have gone into these, and I’m especially grateful for the inclusion of Dazzle Ships.