Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters

Overview

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you...

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Overview

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you believe in—even when it feels like no one is listening. Andrea Davis Pinkney's moving text and Stephen Alcorn's glorious portraits celebrate the lives of ten bold women who lit the path to freedom for generations. Includes biographies of Sojournor Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Discover the meaning of pride, struggle, and equality in this extraordinary collection about African-American female freedom fighters. All ten women featured worked hard to battle the evils of racism and knock down any and all obstacles. Their achievements paved the way for future activists and changed the world around them. From Harriet Tubman to Josephine Baker to Rosa Parks, these women are amazing.

In the story of Biddy Mason, we meet a woman born into slavery and passed from owner to owner. When her slavemaster John Smithson travels from Utah to California, Biddy knows she has found her way out. California is a free state where slavery does not exist. Once there, she befriends many free black people who help her petition a judge for her freedom, and she wins. Soon, Biddy is working as a nurse and midwife, saving money and looking toward the future. She becomes one of the first black women to buy a house and land in the United States, and in the process, she helps other blacks to discover the power and freedom of land ownership.

The illustrations accompanying each story are robust and invigorating, a lot like the women they represent. Bright colors and strong brush strokes add to the rich textures. Each portrait exemplifies the work of each woman. For example, the illustration of Biddy Mason depicts her walking through a green field, with a sash full of houses. She pulls them out and scatters them across the field and into the arms of black farmers.

In the introduction, the author explains her desire for the book, and the women featured in it, to reflect something in everyone -- "the fortitude to keep one's eyes on those prizes that will lead to a better world." Young readers are guaranteed to find this both within the book and within themselves.

--Amy Barkat

From the Publisher
 "Pinkney (Silent Thunder) presents eloquent portraits of 10 intrepid African-American activists for the causes of abolition, women's rights and civil rights. Exploring these individuals' childhoods as well as their accomplishments as adults, the author smoothly distills biographical information so as to hold the attention of young readers. Her selection of subjects includes the prominent (Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Shirley Chisholm) as well as such lesser-knowns as Fannie Lou Hamer, an indefatigable campaigner for African-Americans' right to vote. Pinkney's writing is spiced with colloquialisms ("She didn't shy back for nobody," she says of Sojourner Truth) and useful imagery (describing this same crusader's delivery of her renowned "Ain't I a woman?" speech, the author notes, "She was the only black woman in the place, and when she stepped to the pulpit, some folks looked at her like she was a stain on their purest linens"). Featuring creatively skewed perspective and proportion, Alcorn's (I, Too, Sing America) oil paintings offer allegorical interpretations of his subjects' lives." Publishers Weekly

"Engaging text and glorious art are combined in this collection of sketches celebrating the contributions of 10 women who moved forward the cause of civil rights in America. Following a preface that describes her own family roots in the civil rights movement and their influence on her, Pinkney presents her heroines chronologically, from Sojourner Truth to Shirley Chisholm, in verbal portraits that capture the subjects' spirit and personalities amid biographical highlights. Blending straightforward narrative with a lively storytelling style, the author balances the hardships and racial injustice that these women faced against their faith, strength of character, and determination. They include Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Rosa Parks, as well as Biddy Mason, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, and Fannie Lou Hamer. The book includes many quotes, incidents, and details that lead readers down their personal paths to historical recognition. However, it is Alcorn's vibrant, inspired oil paintings that make this book a standout. A full-page stylized portrait appears opposite the first page of each story; it is filled with symbolic details that are elucidated in the text. A brilliant example is a larger-than-life Harriet Tubman balanced on one knee over a railroad track with arms diagonally outstretched, bridgelike, as tiny travelers make their way up the steep height toward the freedom star. Smaller paintings appear within the stories, carrying the message further. Line, color, and canvas texture give the pictures depth and dynamism, vastly enriching the reading experience. This excellent collection is a must for every library." School Library Journal

From the Publisher

 "Pinkney (Silent Thunder) presents eloquent portraits of 10 intrepid African-American activists for the causes of abolition, women's rights and civil rights. Exploring these individuals' childhoods as well as their accomplishments as adults, the author smoothly distills biographical information so as to hold the attention of young readers. Her selection of subjects includes the prominent (Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Shirley Chisholm) as well as such lesser-knowns as Fannie Lou Hamer, an indefatigable campaigner for African-Americans' right to vote. Pinkney's writing is spiced with colloquialisms ("She didn't shy back for nobody," she says of Sojourner Truth) and useful imagery (describing this same crusader's delivery of her renowned "Ain't I a woman?" speech, the author notes, "She was the only black woman in the place, and when she stepped to the pulpit, some folks looked at her like she was a stain on their purest linens"). Featuring creatively skewed perspective and proportion, Alcorn's (I, Too, Sing America) oil paintings offer allegorical interpretations of his subjects' lives." Publishers Weekly

"Engaging text and glorious art are combined in this collection of sketches celebrating the contributions of 10 women who moved forward the cause of civil rights in America. Following a preface that describes her own family roots in the civil rights movement and their influence on her, Pinkney presents her heroines chronologically, from Sojourner Truth to Shirley Chisholm, in verbal portraits that capture the subjects' spirit and personalities amid biographical highlights. Blending straightforward narrative with a lively storytelling style, the author balances the hardships and racial injustice that these women faced against their faith, strength of character, and determination. They include Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Rosa Parks, as well as Biddy Mason, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, and Fannie Lou Hamer. The book includes many quotes, incidents, and details that lead readers down their personal paths to historical recognition. However, it is Alcorn's vibrant, inspired oil paintings that make this book a standout. A full-page stylized portrait appears opposite the first page of each story; it is filled with symbolic details that are elucidated in the text. A brilliant example is a larger-than-life Harriet Tubman balanced on one knee over a railroad track with arms diagonally outstretched, bridgelike, as tiny travelers make their way up the steep height toward the freedom star. Smaller paintings appear within the stories, carrying the message further. Line, color, and canvas texture give the pictures depth and dynamism, vastly enriching the reading experience. This excellent collection is a must for every library." School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pinkney (Silent Thunder) presents eloquent portraits of 10 intrepid African-American activists for the causes of abolition, women's rights and civil rights. Exploring these individuals' childhoods as well as their accomplishments as adults, the author smoothly distills biographical information so as to hold the attention of young readers. Her selection of subjects includes the prominent (Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Shirley Chisholm) as well as such lesser-knowns as Fannie Lou Hamer, an indefatigable campaigner for African-Americans' right to vote. Pinkney's writing is spiced with colloquialisms ("She didn't shy back for nobody," she says of Sojourner Truth) and useful imagery (describing this same crusader's delivery of her renowned "Ain't I a woman?" speech, the author notes, "She was the only black woman in the place, and when she stepped to the pulpit, some folks looked at her like she was a stain on their purest linens"). Featuring creatively skewed perspective and proportion, Alcorn's (I, Too, Sing America) oil paintings offer allegorical interpretations of his subjects' lives. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Families can pay tribute to black women freedom fighters such as Ella Baker and Shirley Chisholm in Let It Shine. Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney tells the inspiring stories of ten women who advanced the cause of civil rights in this country. Especially moving are the quotes from the featured women that introduce each piece. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," said Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who was a schoolteacher at the age of fourteen and later an esteemed journalist who exposed the horrors of lynching. Stephen Alcorn's oil paintings capture the essence of these heroic women. 2000, Harcourt, $20.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Engaging text and glorious art are combined in this collection of sketches celebrating the contributions of 10 women who moved forward the cause of civil rights in America. Following a preface that describes her own family roots in the civil rights movement and their influence on her, Pinkney presents her heroines chronologically, from Sojourner Truth to Shirley Chisholm, in verbal portraits that capture the subjects' spirit and personalities amid biographical highlights. Blending straightforward narrative with a lively storytelling style, the author balances the hardships and racial injustice that these women faced against their faith, strength of character, and determination. They include Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Rosa Parks, as well as Biddy Mason, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, and Fannie Lou Hamer. The book includes many quotes, incidents, and details that lead readers down their personal paths to historical recognition. However, it is Alcorn's vibrant, inspired oil paintings that make this book a standout. A full-page stylized portrait appears opposite the first page of each story; it is filled with symbolic details that are elucidated in the text. A brilliant example is a larger-than-life Harriet Tubman balanced on one knee over a railroad track with arms diagonally outstretched, bridgelike, as tiny travelers make their way up the steep height toward the freedom star. Smaller paintings appear within the stories, carrying the message further. Line, color, and canvas texture give the pictures depth and dynamism, vastly enriching the reading experience. This excellent collection is a must for every library.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This exciting collective biography features ten important women in the historic struggle to win freedom and civil rights. Pinkney (Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, 1998, etc.) tells the wellknown stories of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks. Other women such as Biddy Mason and Dorothy Irene Height are in the history books but are less familiar. They span the 18th and 19th centuries, from Sojourner Truth, born into slavery circa 1797, to Shirley Chisholm, born in 1924 and living today. Each story contains essential demographic and biographical information written in an accessible, informal style, which provides a vivid picture of the women's lives, their personalities, backgrounds, and the actions that made them memorable. Many of the women also had to fight against prejudice toward women in addition to their causes. Some did not live to see the results of their struggle, but successful or not, all were courageous leaders who paved the way for a more democratic and inclusive America. The introduction gives the reader a glimpse into Pinkney's own life and her rationale for the selection of biographies. A bibliography for further reading lists what are probably her research sources, but are not identified as such and quotations within the chapters are not footnoted in any way. Another quibble is a small mistake in the biography of Dorothy Irene Height as to the two degrees she received in four years. Both were in educational psychology, but Pinkney lists the bachelor's as in social work. However, these flaws do not compromise the value of the book. Alcorn's (Langston Hughes, not reviewed, etc.) paintings, oil on canvas, are as magnificentashis figures and add much to this handsome volume. Vibrant colors, rhythmic lines, and collagelike compositions are allegorical in design and convey the essence of each woman and her work. A truly inspiring collection for personal as well as institutional libraries. (Biography. 812)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547906041
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 277,166
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 940L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.52 (w) x 10.36 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the author of numerous award-winning picture book biographies. A former editor at Essence Magazine who now edits children's books, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Stephen Alcorn is an acclaimed painter and printmaker who has created artwork for a number of anthologies. He lives in Cambridge, New York.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Inspiring book!

    Let it shine by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn was an inspiring book about black women through out history and the impact they made for themselves and others. They set examples and gave courage to other women during the civil right to allow their voices to be heard. Each woman, of the ten, has facts about their lives such as birth and death dates on their front pages. I thought this book would be great in the classroom when teaching either about the civil rights or role models. This is a great book for boys and girls to read. It tells the stories of their lives and how they over came diversity. This is a great book for teaching diversity. I thought there was some good vocabulary for students to learn from this book, such as generosity, Free speech, discrimination, and prejudice. This book has many details about these women such as Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks' lives. The age range for a reader of this book would be fourth and fifth grade. It would tie in their history or social studies curriculum.

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