Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change

by Michelle Cook (Author) E B Lewis (Illustrator)

Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
This unique picture book is part history, part poetry, and entirely inspirational. It takes the reader step by simple step through the cumulative story of the US Civil Rights Movement, showing how select pioneers' achievements led up to the landmark moment when we elected our first black president. Each historical figure is rendered by a different award-winning illustrator, highlighting the singular and vibrant contribution that each figure made.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review
Showcasing the art of 13 artists, this resonant book was inspired by a simple yet searing phrase that celebrates the achievements of African-Americans, which was featured, in various versions, online and at rallies during the 2008 presidential campaign. Cook's adaptation pays tribute to 10 individuals, including George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson. These figures' triumphs are shown as part of a seamless continuum: Martin marched... so Thurgood could rule. Thurgood ruled... so Barack could run. Barack ran... so our children can soar! The spreads understandably represent an array of artistic styles and media, yet they form a cohesive and affecting collective portrait: a musical staff swathes Pat Cummings's Ella Fitzgerald like a boa, while Shadra Strickland's Ruby Bridges is a small yet determined figure, marching up the schoolhouse steps against a backdrop of protestors. Additional images from Leo and Diane Dillon, James Ransome, E.B. Lewis, Eric Velasquez and others, corroborate Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman's assertion, in the book's foreword, that African-American history is the story of hope. Ages 48. "(Apr.)" Copyright 2009 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 6 Similar in approach to Ntozake Shange's "Ellington Was Not a Street" (S & S, 2004), this book spotlights a historical African-American figure on each spread. Cook's brief words introduce 11 key individuals, beginning with "Our ancestors fought]/so George [Washington Carver] could invent./George invented]so Jesse [Owens] could sprint./Jesse sprinted]." Each stunning spread features full-bleed artwork done by a different children's book illustrator, such as James Ransome, Leo and Diane Dillon, Pat Cummings, E. B. Lewis, and Bryan Collier. Sports greats Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson verily leap from the pages. Ruby Bridges steps innocently into her school building, guarded by two federal marshals. An unknown Civil War soldier reminds readers of nameless heroes who struggled for freedom. These images will motivate students to seek further information about the people depicted here. Paragraph-length profiles of these "pioneers of change" are appended as are the artists' biographies, which will lead students to discover a rich body of work by contemporary illustrators. A perfect read-aloud to introduce a lesson on biographies or African-American studies."Catherine Trinkle, Hickory Elementary, Avon, IN" Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A cohesive and affecting collective portrait." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Celebration, inspiration, and connection are the themes that drive this big, handsome picture book. . . . Will inspire parents and grandparents to share their memories and talk with children about the future." —Booklist, starred review

Michelle Cook

Michelle Cook is the pseudonym of a book editor/author who was thrilled to collaborate with Bloomsbury Children's Books to develop this unique text.

Award-Winning Illustrators: Cozbi A. Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Bryan Collier, Pat Cummings, Leo and Diane Dillon, AG Ford, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, James Ransome, Charlotte Riley-Web, Shadra Strickland, Eric Velazquez

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books
Publication date
January 20, 2012
Delaware Diamonds Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014
Texas 2x2 Reading List

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!