Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Election Learning - Kamala & Presidents!

         It's time, maybe past time, to learn about the presidential election and today, about one of the vice-presidential candidates! 

        I think I can write that Nikki Grimes is prescient. To write the story of Kamala Harris not knowing what was going to happen in this 2020 presidential race is a gift to all of us. I suppose I could have researched and discovered much of this information online, but it is much nicer to read Nikki's story about Kamala in a unique way and to enjoy the beautiful images by illustrator Laura Freeman. 
        Nikki allows a mother to tell about Kamala to her daughter, Eve, a first-grader who has arrived home from school fuming. A boy has told her that girls cannot be President! Her mother shares that he's wrong, that a girl from Oakland hopes to be that President one day. Thus, she begins with Kamala's story, with her name meaning "lotus flower" and a smile that opens wide "like petals fanning across the water's surface." The metaphor itself reveals a life as Nikki expands it, reminding through the mother's voice that you don't see the flower's roots. "They grow deep, deep, deep down."

         Kamala's story travels from her beginnings marching in her stroller with her parents for civil rights, visiting with grandparents who also fought for other's rights in other countries, riding a bus to school during the integration of schools in her elementary years. Nikki fills the story with Kamala's continuing striving for leadership and justice from her Howard University time when she ran for the class representative of the Liberal Arts Council through her time at Hastings College of the Law when she served as President of the Black Law Students Association and hosted a job fair for black law students to have a chance to be hired. 

          Don't miss the rest of her story in Nikki's book! With some setbacks and many wins, Kamala does not stop being the same kind of person we see on the news today, a fighter for truth and justice for all. Freeman's scenes fill the pages with pictures imagined from Nikki's words, groups of people in history, including Kamala there living her life of thoughtful public service. It takes her life all the way to her dropping out of the Presidential race yet Nikki writes: "Kamala Harris is still writing her American story.

           She certainly is!
a look at her Howard University Days, part of which she used to protest
apartheid in South Africa

          Little Eve decides she's going to tell that boy at school "he's a doofus", and relents when her mother says "I thought I taught you better than that." But her fingers are crossed!

          A timeline of major events in Kamala's life is added at the back. It's a beautiful book to share this fall, before the election!


          Kate Messner has wonderfully managed to create a creative Presidential timeline of ALL the American Presidents, one to forty-five by focusing on four dates: 1789, 1841, 1879, and 1961. She begins with the question for readers. Quick! Name the current President of the United States. No matter when the book is read, there is only one right answer!

           Kate's premise is that today, in the year 2020, no matter who holds the job right now, the Presidents of tomorrow are out there somewhere! That's an exciting thought! Facts relayed and illustrated on all the pages fascinate and accompany that particular year's president. For example, in 1789, nine future ones were already alive, four working with Washinton in the capital. Bubbles of information show the next four as the personalities they were, like number two, John Adams, known to be argumentative. There he is pictured arguing with president 3, Thomas Jefferson.

          Kate stops a few times with double-page spreads titled "Snapshots", the first one of a terrible fight Andrew Jackson had with a neighbor, ending up with a bullet close to his heart which was never removed. Also shown is Abraham Lincoln in an early job of working on a Mississippi Riverboat. Shown later in a "Snapshot" is that adventurer Teddy Roosevelt, president number 26, who "wins the prize for President Who Had the Most Adventures on his Way to the White House". He had to be called back from the Adirondacks when, as vice-president, his president William McKinley took a turn for the worse and died.

          Adam Rex's ability to illustrate in a combination of portraits and interesting scenes to accompany the interesting facts and stories brings every part to life. His work is lifelike, can be serious and fun and sometimes all at the same time. Be sure to examine the details!

          Here's one picture of a "Snapshot" that shares about animals in the White House. What a surprising array!

           I enjoyed every part of this Presidential history created by Kate Messner. It is one to own and share in these coming months!

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