42 Is Not Just a Number (Candlewick, $15.99): it’s a lasting emblem of the strength and character of one of America’s greatest athletes, Jackie Robinson. As the first professional baseball player of color, Robinson displayed resilience in the face of myriad challenges. Starting from his childhood, Doreen Rappaport details the racism and prejudice Robinson faced as a black man, a member of the Armed Forces, and an athlete. This account of the extraordinary life of a baseball great is the perfect read for sports fans, history lovers, and social justice activists. Ages 8-12.
Before She Was Harriet (Holiday House, $17.95), Araminta Ross was known by many names. The woman who would become Harriet Tubman could be identified in myriad ways throughout her life, from nicknames like Minty and Moses to more universal labels such as sister, daughter, suffragist, and freedom fighter. Lesa Cline-Ransome uses poetry to detail the extraordinary life of one of America’s greatest heroes. Coupled with beautifully detailed watercolor illustrations by James E. Ransome, Cline-Ransome’s verses highlight this former slave’s many accomplishments. Moving beyond Tubman’s work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, readers will revel in her lesser-known achievements as a Civil War spy and expedition leader and truly learn what this “wisp of a woman with the courage of a lion” accomplished. Ages 6-9.
Renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is known for her beautiful paintings and self-portraits. What many readers may not know is that Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos (NorthSouth, $17.95) shared a special bond. Kahlo had many animals throughout her life, including a black cat, a fawn, a parrot, an eagle, two monkeys, two turkeys, and three dogs. They “were her children, her friends, and her inspirations” for many of her artistic works. Monica Brown details Kahlo’s life and the challenges she faced while giving readers tidbits about her pets as well. With beautiful illustrations by John Parra, filled with colorful details for readers to discover, this picture-book biography is a delightful introduction to the life and work of Frida Kahlo. Ages 5-8.