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.”
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.
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.
[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.)
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.
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.”
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.)
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.
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!”