Reviews for Hand in Hand : Ten Black Men Who Changed America

Booklist Reviews 2013 April #1
In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens--"Brother Authors"--inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together "like a chain." Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today's young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text. Surprisingly, Pinkney provides no notes, even though she references both feelings and words in her biographies. For instance, she quotes Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather and his unhappiness over his son's marriage to Ann Dunham without any sourcing. While this is problematic, the book is still a handsome piece of bookmaking that does Pinkney's premise proud. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
The Pinkneys create a testament to African American males (from Benjamin Banneker to Barack Obama) that, taken together, tells one big story of triumph that, incidentally, spans American history. Each profile is compact but comprehensive and includes an introductory poem and a watercolor portrait. The illustrations are a perfect marriage of line, color, and medium and complement the colloquial and ebullient text. Reading list, timeline. Ind.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #1
Presenting ten biographical vignettes in chronological order -- Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack H. Obama II -- the Pinkneys create a testament to African American males that, taken together, tells one big story of triumph (a story that, incidentally, spans American history). Each profile, fifteen to thirty pages long, includes an introductory poem, a watercolor portrait, and spot illustrations. Brian Pinkney's illustrations are a perfect marriage of line, color, and medium and complement Andrea Pinkney's colloquial and ebullient text. "Benjamin Banneker was born under a lucky star. Came into this world a freeborn child, a blessing bestowed on few of his hue." Each profile is compact yet comprehensive, but since virtually all of these men were eloquent writers and speakers, it's mildly disappointing that more of their own words didn't find their way into the text. Still, this is an impressive accomplishment, and a worthy companion to Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul (rev. 11/11). Sources, further reading, a timeline, and an index are appended. jonathan hunt

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
Addressing the appetites of readers "hungry for role models," this presents compellingly oratorical pictures of the lives and characters of 10 African-American men who exemplify a "birthright of excellence." Each of the chronologically arranged chapters opens with a tone-setting praise song and a commanding close-up portrait. From Benjamin Banneker, whose accusatory letter to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson "socked it straight / to the secretary of state," to Barack Obama, who "turned Yes, we can! into a celebration call," the gallery is composed of familiar names. Instead of rehashing well-chewed biographical fodder, though, the author dishes up incidents that shaped and tested her subjects' moral and intellectual fiber along with achievements that make her chosen few worth knowing and emulating. Carping critics may quibble about the occasional arguable fact and an implication that Rosa Parks' protest was spontaneous, but like Malcolm X, Pinkney has such "a hot-buttered way with words" that her arguments are as convincing as they are forceful, and her prose, rich as it is in rolling cadences and internal rhymes, never waxes mannered or preachy. A feast for readers whose eyes are (or should be) on the prize, in a volume as well-turned-out as the dapper W.E.B. Dubois, who was "more handsome than a fresh-cut paycheck." (timeline, index, lists of recommended reading and viewing) (Collective biography. 10-15) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #1

Ten influential black men--including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.--are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man's influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: " thought carefully about some of the beliefs he'd held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he'd been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm's attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look ‘more white.' " Brian Pinkney's portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama's life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

Gr 5-8--This book is similar in scope to the author's Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt, 2000. The subjects here include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, all introduced in the author's characteristically lively prose ("Black students kept on keeping on with dog-eared textbooks and dog-tired feet"; Malcolm Little's hair was transformed from "pretty-boy cotton-kink to slick-daddy bone-straight"). The distinct experiences that shaped each man are ably delineated-the childhood events, the hardships faced, the richly deserved victories won-and the results are, without exception, compelling. The large font size is perfect for the middle-grade audience, but too many blocks of unbroken text may turn away less-confident readers. Thankfully, Brian Pinkney's magnificent portraits and spot art throughout each profile help to amplify each man's story. A must-have for all libraries serving young people.Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH

[Page 124]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2013 February
In Hand in Hand, Pinkney presents profiles of ten very different African American men who have had a profound impact on American society and culture. She outlines the backgrounds and achievements of each man in ten chapters, complete with beautiful illustrations by Brian Pinkney and descriptive poetry to introduce each chapter. We learn about astronomer Benjamin Banneker, who corresponded frequently with Thomas Jefferson, arguing his case against slavery and the unfair treatment of black people. We are given a peek into W. E. B. Dubois's struggle to be accepted as a black man into the prestigious Harvard University and go on to form the NAACP. We gain insight into Barack Obama's roots as the son of a black man and white woman. Pinkney does an exceptional job of detailing the lives of minorities who struggled to be accepted in American society and succeeded in making a difference for minorities everywhere. She describes in the introduction how she selected the people to write about and that she kept it down to just ten so she could provide the reader with sufficient information and background. She begins each chapter with a description of the person's childhood and how he or she was raised. Writing the chapters this way provides a nice segue from each person's struggles to their eventual successes. Brian Pinkney's illustrations are beautifully rendered and add color and whimsy to a wonderful historical tribute. This is a must-have for every library and classroom.--Lindsay Grattan 5Q 3P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.