From The Dispatch's Nancy Gilson comes a trio of book reviews about heroes in African-American history:
"Fort Mose" (Abrams, 42 pages, $18.95, ages 10 to 14) by Glennette Tilley Turner In the 18th century, Francisco Menendez born in western Africa and abducted into slavery as a young man founded the first free black community in North America. The story of his life and the establishment of Fort Mose in St. Augustine, Fla., is told in a detailed picture book that provides readers with plenty of historical context. Photos, paintings, maps and drawings make this a complete package.
"Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow" (Clarion, 32 pages, $16.99, ages 9 to 12) by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe The man behind Purple Haze and the memorable performance of the national anthem at Woodstock evolved from a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw, paint and listen to records. With poetic text and collage illustrations both delivered in a flamboyant, free-flowing style the picture book traces Hendrix's creative development. The "rainbow" in the title is appropriate for the colorful book.
"A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis" (Dial, 40 pages, $17.99, ages 5 to 9) by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Kadir Nelson The picture-book biography with big, robust paintings of Louis is built around the boxer's dramatic fight with Max Schmeling of Germany in 1938, before the onset of World War II. The theme of a nation willing to put aside racial prejudice to rally around a sports hero is as powerful as the book's action-packed illustrations.