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.