The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy by Kekla Magoon

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The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy by Kekla Magoon, illustrated by Laura Freeman (9780062912510)

This picture book biography tells the life story of the first Black justice on the Supreme Court. It begins with Marshall changing his first name in second grade from Thoroughgood. From a child, Marshall knew that there were things that needed to change in the world around him, including segregation. Marshall discovered a love of the law and of debate in school, before heading to Lincoln University for college. He wanted to attend law school at the University of Maryland, but they did not admit Black students, so he attended Howard University, another Black college. As a young lawyer, Marshall won a case to allow a Black student to attend the University of Maryland. He worked on all sorts of civil rights cases with his most famous being arguing before the Supreme Court against school segregation and winning. He argued seven cases before the Supreme Court in his career, winning new rights for Black people along the way. Marshall was asked by JFK to become a judge and was himself sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court in 1967.

Magoon has created a focused and interesting biography for young readers in this nonfiction picture book. She takes a man of many accomplishments and highlights those of the most importance. By starting in his early years, she shows how a passion at a young age can become a career and a way to make a difference in our world. Her writing is insightful and fast moving, taking us through his career and personal life without her pace dragging at all.

Freeman’s illustrations focus on Marshall and the people around him. Even on the pages focused on his education, Marshall stays right in the center of the images rather than the university buildings. This focus on Marshall as a person centers the book visually, matching the text. The captures famous faces beyond Marshall’s in a recognizable yet simple way.

A resounding success of a biography. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

Review: Thurgood by Jonah Winter

Thurgood by Jonah Winter

Thurgood by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Bryan Collier (9781524765347)

From the time he was a small boy, Thurgood Marshall was destined to be a lawyer. He even convinced his parents to have his name legally changed from Thoroughgood to Thurgood at age six. Thurgood faced racism growing up in Baltimore in the 1920’s. He had to attend the overcrowded Colored High School which had no library, gym or cafeteria. His father worked at jobs where he served wealthy white customers, including at a country club that did not allow black people to be members. His father also taught him to debate and argue ideas. When he attended Lincoln University, Thurgood was loud, funny and a great arguer. He went to law school at Howard University where he learned to fight for civil rights in court. His first major legal fight was to force his top pick law school to accept black students. Again and again, Thurgood fought to create laws that focused on equality for all.

A picture book biography that tells the story of the youth and upbringing and early legal cases of the first African American on the Supreme Court, this book really celebrates how he became a weapon for civil rights. Winter makes sure to keep the inherent racism in the society at the forefront, pointing out moments in Thurgood’s life when he was targeted and almost killed. The resilience and determination on display throughout his life is inspiring.

Collier’s art is done in a mix of watercolor and collage. Using patterns and textures, Collier builds entire worlds from paper, from a ruined movie theater to haunting segregated schools. The illustrations are powerful and add much to this story of racism and fighting back.

Strong and compelling, this biography belongs in every library. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Schwartz & Wade Books.