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The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
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The ABCs of Black History (original 2020; edition 2020)

by Rio Cortez (Author), Lauren Semmer (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2715100,085 (4.19)1
"B is for Beautiful, Brave, and Bright! And for a Book that takes a Bold journey through the alphabet of Black history and culture. Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy. It's a story of big ideas--P is for Power, S is for Science and Soul. Of significant moments--G is for Great Migration. Of iconic figures--H is for Zora Neale Hurston, X is for Malcom X. It's an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love. In addition to rhyming text, the book includes back matter with information on the events, places, and people mentioned in the poem, from Mae Jemison to W. E. B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer to Sam Cooke, and the Little Rock Nine to DJ Kool Herc"--… (more)
Member:dancewithjoy
Title:The ABCs of Black History
Authors:Rio Cortez (Author)
Other authors:Lauren Semmer (Illustrator)
Info:Workman Publishing Company (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 64 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez (2020)

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Showing 5 of 5
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
Includes "Terms and Figures" and "More to Explore". Many letters are for multiple terms and people, for example "I is for Imagine, invent, innovative! For all the ways we are creative", and has the names and illustrations for Alvin Ailey, Madam C.J. Walker, George dWashington Carver, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and DJ Kool Herc. Includes: D is for Diaspora, Q is for Queens, T is for Tuskegee,
  VillageProject | Apr 13, 2022 |
Poet Rio Cortez makes learning seem more like a treat than a task. In this alphabet book for ages 6 and up, each letter is expanded upon by alliterative rhyming text and bright colorful illustrations by Lauren Semmer that offer lessons in Black history.

The lessons are couched in a positive light. Take, for example, the letter M:

M is for march, for lifting our feet,
taking the movement, the cause to the street.
Black lives matter. Every breath, every dream -
Every thought, each idea, each impossible scheme.
The might of our message is easy to hear:
The drumbeat of hope is louder than fear.”

Similarly, for S, the author doesn’t focus on slavery, but rather on more positive words starting with s: Black scientists, and Black soul artists.

He doesn’t avoid the topic of slavery however; on the U page he writes:

U is for United States - this story is tough.
The birth of a nation was deadly for us.
We the people? In the land of the free?
No one who was enslaved would agree.”

But again, he doesn’t end on a negative note, but a positive one:

"U is for unbroken, unshaken, unbound,
like Harriet Tubman, who went underground,
took back her freedom and freed hundreds more,
then was a spy in the great
Civil War.

But when the states
were united again,
the fight for our freedom
and lives didn’t end.
So U is for unfinished, this American tale.
With courage and strength, we will prevail!”

Front and back matter includes details to flesh out each entry, and lists directing readers to relevant books, websites, museums, and poetry.

Semmer’s vivid pleasing digital illustrations have a collage/folk art feel. She saturates each double-page spread with color and shows a variety of Black characters from different historical periods with different dress, hairstyles, and skin tones.

Evaluation: The message is that Black lives matter and have always been significant, whether in contributions to society or to family, as expressed on the page for L:

"L is for love. L is for love. L is always for love.”

This book would make a wonderful addition to any library or personal collection.

Note: Workman Publishing, always a source of outstanding works, has provided an excellent Educator Guide to accompany the book, online here. ( )
  nbmars | May 13, 2021 |
An ABC book like no other -- this is no boring "A is for apple" text but a lyrical look at hundreds of years of Black people in America. It hits on tragedies and triumphs from A to Z, although not necessarily in any kind of chronological order. Each page spread is dedicated to a letter or two at most, but oftentimes multiple words are highlighted as being for that letter. Here are some examples, as this book will speak better for itself than I ever will:

- "M is for march, for lifting our feet, taking the movement, the cause to the street. Black lives matter. Every breath, every dream--Every thought, each idea, each impossible scheme. The might of our message is easy to hear: The drumbeat of hope is louder than fear."
- "U is for United States--this story is tough. The birth of a nation was deadly for us. We the people? In the land of the free? No one who was enslaved would agree. U is for unbroken, unshaken, unbound, like Harriet Tubman, who went underground, took back her freedom and freed hundreds more, then was a spy in the great Civil War. But when the states were united again, the fight for our freedom and lives didn't end. So U is for unfinished, this American tale. With courage and strength, we will prevail!"

This book covers a lot of a ground and makes for a good introduction/overview of Black history, with plenty of jumping off points for readers to go learn more. There is extensive backmatter that describes in more detail some of the things just briefly mentioned within the main text, and of course readers can do their own research on any particular topic or historical person that catches their interest.

The illustrations are really eye-catching and have tons of extra details to pore over. For instance, on the "M" page spread, there are pictures dozens of protestors each holding a sign with a different message. The front cover is similarly appealing, with a child standing before a bookshelf, on each book spine is a title of a famous Black person or movement/event, such as Basquiat, The Harlem Renaissance, NAACP, and Toni Morrison, to name just a few.

A lovely book with lots of information, this is a good addition to any classroom or home, school or public library. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jan 26, 2021 |
I really liked this book but it is a bit of a tongue twister. The rhymes can be harsh and the cadence is not constant. But then again this book was not meant necessarily as a read a loud but as a primer to begin Black history at an early age. To help the youngest of kids feel seen and heard. I loved this book for whats on the page, the front matter, and the further information in the back matter. Plus, the artwork is stunning. ( )
  LibrarianRyan | Oct 16, 2020 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Santi Sunflower, and the infinite Black imagination. -R.C.
For my mother. -L.S.
First words
A is for anthem, a banner of song that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong. We lift up our voices, lift them and sing. From stages and street corners, let freedom ring.
Quotations
M is for march, for lifting our feet, taking the movement, the cause to the street. Black lives matter. Every breath, every dream--Every thought, each idea, each impossible scheme. The might of our message is easy to hear: The drumbeat of hope is louder than fear.
U is for United States--this story is tough. The birth of a nation was deadly for us. We the people? In the land of the free? No one who was enslaved would agree. U is for unbroken, unshaken, unbound, like Harriet Tubman, who went underground, took back her freedom and freed hundreds more, then was a spy in the great Civil War. But when the states were united again, the fight for our freedom and lives didn't end. So U is for unfinished, this American tale. With courage and strength, we will prevail!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"B is for Beautiful, Brave, and Bright! And for a Book that takes a Bold journey through the alphabet of Black history and culture. Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy. It's a story of big ideas--P is for Power, S is for Science and Soul. Of significant moments--G is for Great Migration. Of iconic figures--H is for Zora Neale Hurston, X is for Malcom X. It's an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love. In addition to rhyming text, the book includes back matter with information on the events, places, and people mentioned in the poem, from Mae Jemison to W. E. B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer to Sam Cooke, and the Little Rock Nine to DJ Kool Herc"--

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YDSC Black History and Culture
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