Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope

( 36 )

Overview

The #1 New York Times bestselling picture-book biography of President Barack Obama is now in paperback.

Ever since Barack Obama was young, Hope has lived inside him. From the beaches of Hawaii to the streets of Chicago, from the jungles of Indonesia to the plains of Kenya, he has held on to Hope. Even as a boy, Barack knew he wasn’t quite like anybody else, but through his journeys he found the ability to listen to Hope and become what he was ...

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestselling picture-book biography of President Barack Obama is now in paperback.

Ever since Barack Obama was young, Hope has lived inside him. From the beaches of Hawaii to the streets of Chicago, from the jungles of Indonesia to the plains of Kenya, he has held on to Hope. Even as a boy, Barack knew he wasn’t quite like anybody else, but through his journeys he found the ability to listen to Hope and become what he was meant to be: a bridge to bring people together.

This is the moving story of our 44th President, told by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Bryan Collier, both winners of the Coretta Scott King Award. Barack Obama has motivated Americans to believe with him, to believe that every one of us has the power to change ourselves and change our world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This beautifully illustrated biography relates the inspiring story of Barack Obama, the first African American to become president of the United States. By the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Books Road to Paris and Jazmin's Notebook.
Publishers Weekly

"One day Hope stopped by for a visit," begins this biography, narrowly framed as an exchange between an African-American mother and her son. They sit together on a "frayed" sofa in a "tenement" as she tells him who "Braco-what?" is and why he is so special; at the end she blinks back tears when he tells her that he, too, wants to be president when he grows up. (Hope later talks to Barack Obama, as does God.) Grimes (Bronx Masquerade) approaches her themes with a heavy hand, starting with her treatment of race as she describes "his mama, white as whipped cream,/ his daddy, black as ink" (she gets at awe similarly: "Barry's mom married/ a man named Lolo/ and-Oh! The wonderland/ he took Barry to: Indonesia"). Collier uses watercolor and collage, a choice he explains as a metaphor for the way Obama has "piece[d] life's issues together to create a courageous vision for the world." There is much to find in each composition (artfully placed photo images, batik patterns, etc.), but the illustrations often feel static and a few (like the one in which a single tear streams momentously down Obama's cheek), stagy. Ages 5-10. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 5

A bright child of humble background is encouraged by the adults around him to believe that he is capable of doing anything he wants to do. Sound familiar? It's called the American Dream, and the boy is Barack Obama, a biracial child who has gone on to change the course of history. This picture-book biography serves to educate children not only about Obama's journey thus far, but also to connect his circumstances to their own. In particular, children of color now know that they too have boundless potential. Grimes's imagery, however, is occasionally overblown as both Hope and God speak directly to Obama. His impressive life story needs no inflating, and the heavy imagery gets in the way of the message. Collier's vivid watercolor and collage artwork brings the varied aspects of the man's life together. From the sparkling beaches of Hawaii where he played as a child to the brown, arid village in Kenya where his father was buried, readers see Obama always reaching toward the future. Despite the overly laudatory tone, this book is an appealing addition to biography collections.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Kirkus Reviews
When David wonders why all those people on TV are shouting one man's name, his mother tells him Barack Obama's story. Accompanied by Collier's trademark, powerful collages, Grimes's storytelling voice, heavily tinged with the gospel rhythms of the black church, relates the particulars of Obama's youth, from his childhood in Hawaii and yearning for his estranged father, to his days as a community activist in Illinois, in the Senate and, most briefly, his presidential campaign. David's questions and his mother's responses punctuate each double-page spread, never letting readers forget the story's frame. It's a contrivance that works, perhaps because it's so obviously informed by the author's own passion, described in a concluding note. Based primarily on Obama's Dreams from My Father (2004) as well as other sources, this work stands on shaky nonfiction ground, as Grimes admits to taking artistic license; most troubling are unsourced quotations within the text. Still, of the three candidates' picture-book biographies out this season, this stands as the one most likely to communicate to children on a visceral level. (author's, illustrator's notes, resources, timeline, family tree) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442440920
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 631,348
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include the ALA Notable book What is Goodbye? as well as the novels Jazmin’s Notebook, Dark Sons, and The Road to Paris, all Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books. She won the Coretta Scott King Author Award for Bronx Masquerade. She lives in Corona, California. Visit her online at NikkiGrimes.com.

Bryan Collier is the author and illustrator of the Coretta Scott King Award–winning book Uptown. He received Caldecott Honors for the books Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, which was also a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book; Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, which received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; and, most recently, Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill. He lives in New York. You can visit him at BryanCollier.com.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Nikki Grimes

Q: There is so much information out there about Senator Obama, especially in these past few months. What inspired you to write a children's book about Barack Obama?

A: Initially, the project was brought to me by editors Justin Chanda and Alexandra Cooper. At the time, all I knew about Barack Obama is that he was a rising star in the Democratic Party, and that he'd thrown his hat in the ring to campaign for his party's nomination for President. That, in itself, had me intrigued. Then, as I researched his life, I discovered a rich story, parts of which (spear fishing in Hawaii, pet gibbons and pet crocodiles in Djakarta) virtually screamed kid-appeal. And it was a story bound to have enormous resonance with many of today's children who, like Obama was, are being raised by single parents, or who live with grandparents, or who wrestle with the impact of an absent father. Most importantly, his story is one of triumph, and children cannot read too many stories of winning against all odds. Such stories are especially important for children of color.

Q: Tell me about the research you did prior to writing this book.

A: The time frame for this book was short, and so I put myself on a daily reading regimen. I began with Obama's elegantly written memoir, Dreams from My Father, read parts of The Audacity of Hope, devoured countless speeches, quotes, audio clips and articles; and read an earlier juvenile biography by Marlene Targ Brill.

Q: How were you able to make Barack Obama's complicated life story age-appropriate and accessible for young children?

A: That is always the challenge. The only trick to it is to look at the material through a child's eyes. The other key is to simplify, simplify, simplify. For instance, rather than attempting to explain Obama's legislative work on the state level, or even the intricacies of street organizing, I focused on the goals of that work: to get people involved in the issues, to bring them together, to try to make life better for everyone. Those are concepts a child can wrap his mind around. Every aspect of Obama's complex story had to be simplified, to some extent. It isn't merely a matter of using a limited vocabulary. One has to keep in mind what is socially and emotionally age-appropriate, as well. In general, though, poetry is the perfect genre for compressing complex stories into a relatively small and accessible format. And, again, there was much in his story that had resonance for young readers.

Q: What do you hope children will retain after reading this book?

A: That no matter where you begin in life, no matter what the color of your skin, if you believe in yourself, if you apply yourself, if you remember that God has a dream for you bigger than you can imagine, then anything is possible. The sky is truly the limit, and that sky now includes the possibility of becoming President of the United States of America.

Q: Why do you think it is important for children to be informed about our election process?

A: Because our democracy is one of the greatest things they will inherit. It is important for them to understand how it works, and the role each of us plays as citizens. Books such as Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope won't necessarily teach them about the process of government, but it will open the discussion. If we can get children excited about the personalities in government, it's a short step to energizing their interest in the workings of that government.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: Two young adult novels and a picture book of historical fiction. I always seem to be juggling projects!
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 36 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    A Hero for our generation and the next....

    What a wonderful book for my adopted biracial children. The same message that I have instilled in them all of their lives, reach for the stars, they can be anything they want to be!

    25 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2008

    Relatable

    My students really make connections with Barack Obama. They felt the same pain that he experienced being without his parents. They also could relate to being raised by a grandparent. This story made them feel as if anything were possible if you studied in school. You have to believe in yourself. It doesn't matter if you have one parent or two. Hope and hard work is the key. This book was truly inspiring.

    17 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2008

    Hope for All

    This book is empowering. Especially to the children who may come from homes that do not seem like the norm in society. Barrack's life speaks volumes to the children we have in our home. Thank you for putting Barrack's story in children's storybook form. It has become one of my favorites. It is right up there with Martin's Big Words. Thanks you!!

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2008

    Dreams can come true...

    YES, WE CAN. We can dream. YES, WE CAN. We can achieve those dreams. YES, WE CAN. We can change America. YES, WE CAN. This story chronicles Obama¿s life as he leads up to running for President. The historical nature of the story is intriguing. They used to call him Barry until he embraced his father and his name Barack. As his mother taught him proper English, Godly virtues, and love of family his sense of adventure took hold. Education was his foothold and studying was his pastime. Barack felt the urgent need to help the community overcome the adversity and now he is making history¿ The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. The storyline seems to be historical correct and the important dates chronology provide validation. The story touches on several topics ¿ divorce, family, values, education, and community involvement. The family tree, additional sources and bibliography prove the intense research used to write this book. Deltareviewer Reviewing for Real Page Turners

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    I collect childrens' books

    This book is a wonderful, expansive ways to help children appreciate the diversity of 'normal' experiences in their own lives, and to foster empathy for the divergence in the lives of others. Barack Obama is a gift, and so is this book!

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2008

    A great book

    To the person with the negative comment they could not be more wrong about this book. This book was written by Nikki Grimes without the assistance of Barack Obama and in my opinion I think the book was written beautifully. It was done in two weeks but she put her heart and soul into this projected and did all of her research. Her books usually takes her 3 to 4 months. I think the story line was super and the illustrations were fantastic. I purchased the book when it first came out and would buy it twice over.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    Couldn't Be More Full of Himself

    What a shameful display this book is. Even before he could possibly take office Barack Obama paints himself as a Messiah figure something so incredibly egotistical it is beyond describing! This kind of approach to our leaders is dangerous. If you create in the mind of a child a hero out of a fallible and flaw-ridden person you've just made a god out of a man. Pure and simple. The same tactic is employed in George Orwell's 1984, may I mention.

    5 out of 50 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2009

    This books literally speaks volumes

    As an elementary teacher in an urban setting , I find the book to be educational and entertaining . Many of our students have expereinced being raised by single moms who face challenges of their own . It reveals how a mother's love can make up for what is not present in a childs life , whatever it may be . This book speaks to the heart of anyone who has a love and respect for children , education and the teaching of values at a young age. Children must learn tolerance and a respect for others from those adults who they love and respect . It then becomes a natural progression into their daily thinking and interactions with their peers and eventually the world . Congradulations to Nikki Grimes for taking this opportunity to share the story of a young child who dared to keep the principles taught to him by his mom and grandparents. The fruits of thier labor was not in vein

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2009

    Is Barack Obama the next Mao?

    This book makes Barack Obama appear to be some sort of a God figure. And the art portrays him as if he was Mao! The art alone in this book looks like communist propaganda posters from the 1960's in China!!! I would NEVER let my Child read this book!! It's propaganda!

    3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    Great book to introduce Obama to your kids!

    Stimulates discussion with your kids and provides nice story of President Obama's life.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Barack Obama by Nikki Grimes, Byan Collier (Illustrator)

    With knowing that I purchased this book for my children to learn from, I found it to be written with a child's full understanding of what they would be reading. Although, like many books written throughout life, this book turns the pages in time of what our new president went through in life that helped him build the ideology which assisted him to winning the election. Lessons learned through those that have been in our lives years ago, although the truth is the lessons we hold onto to carry us through to our dreams. President Barack Obama, like myself, heard the words of Martin Luther King Jr. of "I have a dream" which turned stones after stones to the new American dream to change the ideology within the political arena. I strongly feel that this book will open the eyes of tomorrow's children to know that they can be what ever they set their dreams on to be when they grow up.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Great for today's kids

    This story is not just about Barack Obama, first African American Presidential nominee. This story reveals the feelings and emotions of kids struggling with extended family difficulties, the "D" word (divorce), mixed family backgrounds, feelings of parental abandonment, and identity issues. The great focal point was the demostration of hard work to either accept or overcome the issues and succeed. I sent this book to every juvenile boy and girl in my family, as a xmas gift, regardless of economic or family status. I got many thanks from parents and kids.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Perfect For Young Readers

    My teen daughter showed me this book in the store. I took a picture walk through it and then did a quick read. Bravo Nikki! I bought this book and am now allowing it to spend one night at each 2nd grader's home in my class. The style of writing is touching and will appeal to both children and their parents.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Baractuful!

    When I saw the book on display and began to peruse through it, I immediately saw that it was well written and illustrated for children. I purchased two, one for my granddaughter and grandson. My granddaughter, who was with me, read the entire book before we got home. She loved it and wanted to take it to school to share with the class. It really gives children a better insight of the childhood and history of our new President. Congrates to the writers.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A nice book

    Nice inspirational story. For younger kids, check out "Barack Obama 101" - a board book for parents and grandparents to share this historic moment with the next generation of Americans.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2009

    Son of promise, child of hope? Are you kidding me?? How about a reality check.

    I'm all for teaching our children about important historical figures. But it disappoints me to see such a book proping up Barack Obama to young and uninformed minds as if he were an iconic figure like MLK or Abraham Lincoln. When the man clearly has no real record outside of political campaign rhetoric. It's not very honest to our children to make something out to be more than what it really is. There was a transfer of power to the other party, that is what the book should be about. Not about making Obama the posterchild for "hope" and "change" when hasn't even made a policy decision yet. It's too bad we can't keep partisanship out of our children's literature.

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2013

    That was horrible, where is the mention of him doing cocaine? G

    That was horrible, where is the mention of him doing cocaine? God spoke to him? Are you kidding me?! Heads will role if my child reads this crap in school!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This biography is told by a mother, Hope, to her son. Bryan Col

    This biography is told by a mother, Hope, to her son. Bryan Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations are beautiful and spot-on with the story being told. My biggest issue is God speaking to Barack Obama. Is this sending a message to children that only those individuals spoken to be God will succeed? Perhaps children will not interpret that part of the story as I did but it did cause me to pause. The timeline and family tree at the end of the story are helpful. This edition is revised and updated for the 2012 election according to the front cover. Thanks to Puget Sound Council for this review copy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Pretty good book.Makes his life easy to understand

    Like the book.I recomend this book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    Lacking quality, full of propaganda

    This is a far-fetched portrayal of the first black president which verges on brain-washing. There are some touching moments in this book, but they are more than overwhelmed by a shockingly false portrayal of the man. It is clear from the title and cover illustration alone that this book is pure propaganda.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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