Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb

by Veronica Chambers (Author) Rachelle Baker (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A timely picture book biography about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress, who sought the Democratic nomination to be the president of the United States.

Shirley Chisholm famously said, If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. This dynamic biography illuminates how Chisholm was a doer, an active and vocal participant in our nation's democracy, and a force to be reckoned with. Now young readers will learn about her early years, her time in Congress, her presidential bid and how her actions left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire, uplift, and instruct.

Publishers Weekly

Chambers captures the essence of trailblazing advocate and politician Shirley Chisholm with a conversational narrative that highlights action words representative of the stateswoman. Declaring "verbs are words that move the world forward," the picture book biography sets apart nearly 30 verbs with capitalized, aqua blue typeface ("Her actions PLANTED the seeds of possibility for others"). An accessible storytelling style uses short, direct sentences to recount that, before Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress and made her 1972 bid to become the first Black and female presidential candidate, she was the daughter of immigrants and a voracious reader, teacher, and organizer. Baker, in her picture book debut, employs realistic digital illustrations to show Chisholm both smiling and serious, her jaw often resolutely set. One spread depicts current female lawmakers for whom Chisholm paved the way. An upbeat story of a dynamic pioneer whose tenacity and courage continue to inspire. Ages 4-8. (July)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"An upbeat story of a dynamic pioneer whose tenacity and courage continue to inspire."—Publishers Weekly
Veronica Chambers
Veronica Chambers is the award-winning author of many books for children and adults, including Mama's Girl and Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa. Born in Panama, she grew up in Brooklyn, where she remembers walking to school and seeing Shirley Chisholm for Congress posters all around her neighborhood. She has been a senior editor at the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Glamour, and is currently the editor of Past Tense, the New York Times archival storytelling initiative devoted to publishing articles based on photographs recently rediscovered from its archives.

Rachelle Baker is a multi-disciplinary artist from Detroit, Michigan, with a background in relief printing, illustration, comic art, video art, and music. Her work can be seen in The New York Times and will appear in the book Making our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream by Blair Imani, to be published by Ten Speed Press in January. This is her first fully illustrated picture book.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
July 20, 2020

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