Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice  – Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Laura Freeman

  Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice  – Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Laura Freeman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. 9781534462670

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

 Genre: biography

 What did you like about the book? A frustrated 1st grade girl named Eve comes home from school, complaining about a classmate who told her she can’t be president.  Her mother begins to tell her about someone who could prove that classmate wrong, and this vignette provides a frame for this lovely picture book biography of Kamala Harris.  Covering Harris from her childhood in California with her activist parents, through her formative college career at Howard University, up to the point where she withdrew from the 2020 presidential campaign, Grimes describes a hard-working, justice-loving woman who succeeded because of her own drive and the loving influence of her family and friends.  Eve and her mother interject from time to time, which enables Grimes to insert lessons Harris learned as she grew up – for instance, when she did not pass the California Bar Exam the first time around and that was her first experience with failure.  

Grimes, as always, uses such beautiful imagery and figurative language in the poetic text of this book, and it is greatly enhanced by the illustrations as well.  Homage is paid to the many shining examples whose history impacted Harris – including Nina Simone, Thurgood Marshall, and Shirley Chisholm – throughout the book, graciously described in the text as well as beautifully depicted in the illustrations.  There is a timeline and list of sources that young researchers will find useful.  

Anything you did not like about the book?  No, although I do wish Nikki Grimes had waited another year to publish it!  

 To whom would you recommend this book? This book begs to be read aloud to students in all elementary grades, and will make a terrific addition to any biography collection especially where librarians are seeking to add diverse role models to the shelves.  Many young children admire Kamala Harris and will love reading more about her.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Biography

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 3/25/2021

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