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Children's LiteratureA volume in the "Black Star" series, this well-intentioned collection profiles twenty-five African American achievers who have become millionaires, some many times over. Each opens with an overview of their success followed by information about their childhood, education either formally or in work situations, and their rise to success. Much of the information is taken from the subject's own writings, as indicated by the bibliography. Subjects are divided by chronology into four parts: William Leidesdorff represents "The Early Years" and four people (Mary Ellen Pleasant, Bridget Mason, Anthony Overton, and Abraham Lincoln Lewis) represent the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. "Into the New Century" presents five subjects, including the more well-known Madame C. J. Walker and S. B. Fuller. "Modern Times," the largest section, mostly figures from sports, modeling, and entertainment, includes Robert L. Johnson, "Spike" Lee, and Tiger Woods. Wooden, fulsome prose is unadorned with quotes and recounts facts but with omissions (e.g., suggesting that Magic Johnson's AIDs was caused by blood transfusions rather than prodigious sexual activity about which Johnson is quite open). Each person is represented by an often poorly reproduced photograph (Madame C. J. Walker's is so muddy that one only has to look at the jacket to see the contrast). Unevenly formatted biographies feature boxed information and vocabulary in earlier profiles but boxes are all but abandoned in later profiles. However, what emerges from these profiles is the message of hard work, the head-on confrontation of racial injustices, the role of mentors and the importance of being one, the value of education, and the author'sselection of public good works which suggest the importance of giving back to the community. All in all, report writers will find information here while others will be inspired to dream. But the modern venue for making a million, indicates this book, is still in sports and entertainment. 2005, Wiley, Ages 11 to 16.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.