Lift Your Light a Little Higher by Heather Henson


Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson, illustrated by Bryan Collier (InfoSoup)

Stephen Bishop was a slave who explored and mapped Mammoth Cave. The book is set in 1840 where you can follow the light of Bishop’s lantern deep into the massive cave as he gives people and the reader a tour. For the reader though, the tour is about slavery, about civil rights and about the ability for a man to discover value through exploring darkness. Bishop was the first to see many of Mammoth’s sights, including the blind fish. He learned to read as people signed their names on the cave’s ceiling, though learning to read and write was forbidden for slaves. This man’s story is a tale of resilience, self worth and discovery.

Henson tells the story almost in verse, capturing the highlights of the man’s discoveries but also weaving the dark side of slavery with the darkness of the cave. Henson gives Bishop a strong voice, one that stands out on the page and demands to be heard. Told in the voice of The Guide, Bishop explains slavery and its structure to the reader just as he explains his role and his attitudes towards life and the cave that made his famous. The author’s note contains information on Bishop and how he was sold along with the cave to several owners.

Collier’s illustrations are exceptional. He has several that are simply amazing in their power. One that caused me to linger for some time was the page with the oxen with faces on their sides, faces of slavery in various colors that are wrinkled and damaged. It’s a powerful reminder of the place of slaves as property. There are other pages that show hope in the slanting light of sun as Bishop exits the dark of the cave is one. Exceptional.

A strong picture book biography of a man many won’t have heard of before, this book speaks to the tragedy of slavery and the resilience and power of one man. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.


This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts these last couple of weeks:

Picture Books that Teach Kids to Combat Racism:


8 Picture Books that Deconstruct Gender Norms

“25 Picture Books That Promote Empathy and Respect”

And the Undie Goes To . . . — 100 Scope Notes

At 7-Imp today, a big, beautiful new collection of some of Tomi Ungerer’s work: .

Books do speak to children’s imagination, says author Julia Donaldson

Celebrate picture books! Reading is “the grand conversation of humanity”

Children’s book author Jon Klassen and the morally ambiguous universe of hats – Salisbury Post

Children’s books to add to your gift-giving list

A couple great picks from here! 🙂 Children’s Books that Encourage Kindness

Fairytale feast of recipes inspired by children’s books

“Family Reading: A place for ALL families”

“Finding Home: 5 Middle Grade Novels About Immigration”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Publish Picture Book of John Lennon’s Song of Peace and Tolerance, “Imagine”

How to write great books for children and young adults

Interview with Mary Cronk Farrell, author of Fannie Never Flinched – ALSC Blog

Moving On Up: ‘They All Saw a Cat’

New York Public Lib Reveals its List of Best Books for Kids and Teens Just in Time for The Holidays

Linkubator Roundup: Week of November 13 2016:


A Bronx Librarian Keen on Teaching Homeless Children a Lasting Love of Books

Considering the Denver Public Library’s mission in the wake of the election

“Open to Change | Office Hours” – Unstaffed public libraries increase access at GCPL

State of Michigan says literacy is not a fundamental right

reading humour:


29 YA Books About Mental Health That Actually Nail It

“2016 Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Books for Teens”

Faces of Color on 2017 YA Books

Netflix Orders ‘The Kissing Booth’; YA Adaptation To Be Produced By Komixx