She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

by Katheryn Russell-Brown (Author) Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)

She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A timely, inspiring picture book biography of the dynamic twentieth-century educator, activist, and politician Shirley Chisholm.

Even as a young child growing up in the 1920s, Shirley Chisholm was a leader. At the age of three, older children were already following her lead in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

As a student at Brooklyn College, Shirley could outtalk anyone who opposed her on the debate team. After graduating, she used her voice and leadership to fight for educational change. In community groups, she stood up for the rights of women and minorities. Her small stature and fiery determination often took people by surprise. But they listened.

In 1964, Shirley took her voice and leadership to politics, becoming the first Black woman elected to the New York State Assembly, and in 1968, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Then in 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the presidency of the United States. She pushed for laws that helped women, children, students, poor people, farm workers, Native people, and others who were often ignored. She fought for healthcare. She spoke up for military veterans. She spoke out against war

Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and catalyst of change who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.


Publishers Weekly

Tracing the remarkable Shirley Chisholm's life from her childhood in Brooklyn and Barbados to her work as a teacher and community activist, Russell-Brown builds to her groundbreaking political career: member of the New York State Assembly, first black woman elected to Congress, and 1972 presidential campaigner--the first black person to run for the office. Though Chisholm, famously "Unbought and Unbossed," is presented as a fighter ("She worked for laws that helped women, children, students, poor people, farmworkers, Native people, and others who were often pushed aside"), the details of those fights remain off the page, complicating the reader's understanding of the opposition Chisholm faced and the scope of her achievements. Velasquez's realistic watercolor images use a photographic sensibility to present snapshots of Chisholm's life. An afterword includes fuller biographical information, photographs, and sources. Ages 6-12. (June)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5—This warm, inspiring picture book biography spotlights the fascinating life and achievements of politician and educator Shirley Chisholm. Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1924, Chisholm made her vibrant personality known from the start, leading groups of older kids around the neighborhood. Her parents were hard workers who had trouble feeding their family and making ends meet. They made the tough decision to send their daughter and her siblings to Barbados to live on her grandmother's farm. Despite the jarring change of lifestyle, Chisholm's experience in Barbados made a lasting impact. Seeing people who looked like her and worked in a variety of jobs was inspiring. It taught the future politician that she could grow up to hold a powerful position. In 1934, Chisholm moved back to Brooklyn, where she excelled in school and college and went on to become a teacher. At night, she worked closely with community groups and became a prominent voice for frequently overlooked populations: women, people of color, the poor, and children. She later won a spot in the New York State Assembly. In 1968, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress. She even ran for president in 1972. While she didn't win, she paved the way for future Black and female presidents. An extensive afterword is appended. VERDICT Russell-Brown, with the help of Velasquez's expressive watercolor art, vividly brings Chisholm's experiences to life with storytelling that will appeal to a wide variety of ages—those both aware and unaware of her legacy. Recommended for elementary and public library collections.—Kristy Pasquariello, Westwood P.L., MA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Important history made beautiful and engaging. — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Russell-Brown, with the help of Velasquez's expressive watercolor art, vividly brings Chisholm's experiences to life with storytelling that will appeal to a wide variety of ages—those both aware and unaware of her legacy. — School Library Journal

This succinct biography emphasizes Chisholm's leadership qualities and her slogan and attitude (Unbought and Unbossed). — Booklist

Katheryn Russell-Brown

Katheryn Russell-Brown is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida. She grew up in a family of music lovers, where jazz was an integral part of the sounds of daily life. A radio broadcast in 2008 about Liston inspired Russell-Brown to research the musician and eventually to write Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, her first picture book. Russell-Brown lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her family. Visit her online at krbrown.net.

ERIC VELASQUEZ has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, and has authored some picture books as well. Among the awards he has received for his work are the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, the Carter G. Woodson Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. When not illustrating book projects, Velasquez teaches book illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He lives in Hartsdale, New York. You can visit him online at ericvelasquez.com.

Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781620143469
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
August 20, 2020
Series
-
NAACP Image Award
Winner

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