Book Links September 2016 www.booklistonline.com/booklinks 16
experience of the author’s mother-in-law, this gripping tale is a quiet
commentary on separation and loss,
as Devorah realizes how a black
servant can be forced by law to live
apart from her child. The history of
persecution and immigration will
echo with many American families.
Ship of Dolls. By Shirley Parenteau.
2014. Candlewick, $16.99
(9780763670030). Gr. 3–6.
In 1926, 11-year-old Lexie Lewis
longs for a chance to get to San
Francisco, where her songbird mother
is performing, and her school’s participation in a Japanese doll exchange
might be her ticket. This is based
on real events: the exchange of dolls
between Japanese and U.S. schoolchildren was conceived as a message
The Jazz Age and the Harlem
Harlem Hellfighters. By J. Patrick
Lewis. Illus. by Gary Kelley.
2014. Creative Company, $18.99
(9781568462462). Gr. 5–8.
Free-verse poems and illustrated
panels introduce the story of 2,000
African American men who, although
treated like second-class citizens,
fought so valiantly during WWI
that enemies nicknamed them the
Hellfighters. The lyrical text explores
the men’s recruitment, training in the
Jim Crow South, and courage and
tenacity when finally sent into battle.
Many were fine musicians as well,
bringing the sound of Harlem across
the ocean. A powerful tribute, useful
in sparking student research.
The Music in George’s Head: George
Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue.
By Suzanne Slade. Illus. by Stacy
Innerst. 2016. Boyds Mills/Calkins
Creek, $17.95 (9781629790992).
American masterpiece Rhapsody in
Blue is introduced here, along with its
composer, George Gershwin. George
listens for hours to the tunes pouring
from supper clubs and dives in nearby
Harlem. After his family gets a piano,
he begins mingling what he hears
with the classical music he loves. The
result? Jazzy popular tunes. Swirling
text wraps around inventive art, capturing the time period as well as the
dazzling musical piece.
Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic
Neighborhood. By Carole Boston
Weatherford. Illus. by R. Gregory
Christie. 2014. Albert Whitman,
$16.99 (9780807576502). K–Gr. 3.
With spare text and minimalist il-
The Star Fisher. By Laurence Yep.
lustrations, Weatherford and Christie
pay fine tribute to the tradition of ar-
tistic expression that bloomed during
the Harlem Renaissance. Each page
turn reveals a luminary of the scene
of peace. The companion novel, Dolls
of Hope (2015), recounts the doll
exchange from the Japanese side.
1991. Harper, o.p. Gr. 3–7.
In 1927, Joan Lee and her family
become the first Chinese Americans
in a small West Virginia town.
Greeted with suspicion, prejudice,
and threats from townspeople, the
family’s transition is a difficult one.
Joan Lee finds comfort in a traditional Chinese folktale about a
kingfisher trapped in human form as
she struggles to live with a foot in two
worlds and deal with hostility.
Jazz Age Josephine. By Jonah
Winter. Illus. by Marjorie
Priceman. 2012. Atheneum, $16.99
(9781416961239). K–Gr. 3.
Singer, dancer, and entertainer
Josephine Baker may not be familiar to younger readers, but this
introduction dazzles. The biographical details, including her fervent
acclaim in Paris as a “symbol of the
American Jazz Age,” are covered
broadly, while Priceman’s kinetic
artwork conveys the spirit, as much
as the life, of the subject. An author’s note supplies more concrete
biographical details. Follow up
with Winter’s How Jelly Roll Morton
Invented Jazz (2015).
with just a single line of text that
gracefully sums up his or her contribution. More than anything, this
is about a caring community where
cultural pride and the possibility of
dreams not deferred ran gloriously
Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance. By
Eleanora Tate. 2007. Little, Brown,
$15.99 (9780316523943). Gr. 4–7.
Thirteen-year-old Celeste is sent
to live with her aunt Valentina, a
singer and dancer in Harlem, only to
discover that Valentina isn’t a famous
performer after all—she’s barely
scraping by. The Harlem Renaissance
has begun, though, and Valentina