In her latest collection of poems, Carole Boston Weatherford relates the history of the Tuskegee Airmen. Trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama during World War II, these men became the United States’ first black military airmen and went on to serve with distinction abroad. They had to fight racism at home as well as in Europe, facing the reality that they were risking their lives for a country that did not treat them as equals. Weatherford addresses their bravery as well as the historical context of their story, including an account of the first black women to serve in the Army Nurse Corps. Jeffery Boston Weatherford’s scratchboard illustrations are searing in their black-and-white boldness, emphasizing the impact of the message that the Tuskegee Airmen spread to all black Americans: You Can Fly (Atheneum, $16.99). Ages 9-12.
What could a group of college students possibly do when faced with the deadly power of the Nazi regime? The answer, as the members of the White Rose student resistance movement saw it, was to make their voices heard. Newbery and Sibert Medal winner Russell Freedman chronicles the lives of siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, who transformed from enthusiastic Nazi youth group participants into fierce critics of the regime and co-founders of the White Rose. Together with their close-knit group of university friends, they wrote and clandestinely distributed leaflets denouncing the Führer. Well aware that their actions could cost them their lives, these brave students’ declaration that We Will Not Be Silent (Clarion, $17.99) serves as a powerful reminder that speaking up can be an act of heroism. Ages 10-14.
Political revolutionaries change society—and so do booksellers. The Book Itch (Carolrhoda, $17.99), the latest collaboration between author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrator R. Gregory Christie (No Crystal Stair), highlights the power of books through the history of the National Memorial African Bookstore. Nelson’s great-uncle, Lewis Michaux, Sr., opened the shop in 1930s Harlem. Narrated in the voice of Lewis Michaux, Jr., the text captures the elder Michaux’s charisma, wit, and vehement belief in the value and possibility of words. Christie’s complex illustrations reveal the emotions of the store’s clientele, from everyday bookworms to Malcolm X, and contrast the intimate joy of reading with the pain and sorrow of Malcom X’s assassination. At once personal and historical, this picture book creates a sense of place and people that will leave readers with a hunger for more. Ages 7-10