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Portraits of African-American Heroes Book Review (From the Bookshelf of Kiarra Lynn Smith)


TITLE: Portraits of African-American Heroes

AUTHOR:Tonya Bolden

ILLUSTRATOR: Ansel Pitcairn

PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc. by Arrangement with Dutton Children’s Books


DESIGN:Richard Amari

Printed in the United States

ISBN 0-439-68404-8

Portraits of Heroes is a collection of short biographies of Black men and women in United States history. It had been on my bookshelf for several years, but for some odd reason, I never picked it up.

I noticed that the author was Tonya Bolden and I remembered what an excellent book she had written on Dr. George Washington Carver. Bolden takes the same talent in the Portraits of Heroes. Her writing style is informative, yet simple. She makes an analysis of the heroes and heroines but does not force a certain view point or bias. It is a book that can be selected for youth beginning middle school and up, however it is also a wonderful choice for a younger audience.

The illustrations of Ansel Pitcairn are perfectly paired with Bolden’s book. His work is sleek and not overwhelming, reflecting Bolden’s writing style. The illustrations are listed as paintings for they are watercolor and acrylic on watercolor paper, which he explained in an interview with Stella Winston. For the longest time, I did not know what media he used. I couldn’t tell if it was watercolor and ink or watercolor by itself.

The author and illustrator selected the people in the book be placing them into categories: people in politics, community activists, those in sports, Civil Rights leaders, etc. I would suggest this book as one to add to a Black history book collection. It can be used as an introduction to African-American greats for any age group.


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