Book Reviews: Honoring Black History Month

“Mrs. Parks was having a good day ...” So begins Rosa (Holt, $16.95; for ages 6 and up), a stunning tribute to Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks. In the simplest words, author Nikki Giovanni gives us Parks’ life and impact in terms children can appreciate. On that day in 1955, she said “no” to giving up her seat on the bus to a white man. We see what thoughts led up to her decision, and what an effect it had – especially in a four-page foldout showing crowds of supporters on the day in 1956 when the Supreme Court ruled against segregation on the buses. In spectacular collages, incorporating his paintings, Bryan Collier shows Parks, who died just last year, as an inspiring force that continues to radiate golden light.

Earth Mother (Walker, $16.95; for ages 5 and up) depicts Mother Nature as a proud, beautiful African goddess. In Ellen Jackson’s original fable, Earth Mother walks the land, swims the seas and climbs the mountains, nurturing and creating as she passes. Check out her gorgeous outfits, different on each page, lovingly painted – as is all of creation – by Leo and Diane Dillon. Earth Mother chats with Man, Frog and Mosquito. In giving her advice, their pleas cancel each other out in a humorous way. Our world is interconnected, and Earth Mother rules on.

With Papa, Do You Love Me? (Chronicle, $15.95; for ages 4 to 8), Wisconsin author Barbara M. Joosse sets her endearing tale on Kenya’s Serengeti Plain, among the traditional Maasai culture. A father in red robes tells all the ways he will love and protect his Tender Heart from dangers, while a glossary offers more information about the Maasai. Barbara Lavallee’s soft, stylized watercolors are familiar from the duo’s previous classic, Mama, Do You Love Me?.