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Uptown Dragon


What's the next best pet when you can't have a puppy? Why, a dragon, of course. And that's just what an adventurous young boy named Kamal gets in author/illustrator Marlon McKenney's lovely soft-back picture book, Uptown Dragon.

The book opens with a meteor streaking to earth and crashing in a dark alley. Young Kamal races to the alley and finds a warm, lumpy space rock of glowing green and takes it home for further inspection. He leaves it in his room while he has dinner, but when he returns...

The glowing green rock hatches into what looks like a lizard with wings. Since Kamal isn't allowed to have a puppy, this "lizard" that Kamal names Ziggy is the next best thing. But by the next morning, Ziggy has grown to the size of an adult dog! The morning after that, Ziggy is the size of a horse and Kamal is forced to let him sleep in a dumpster in the alley near his building. But Ziggy is quickly spotted, and soon the city is in an uproar and the police want to stop Ziggy before he hurts someone. Now it's up to Kamal to figure out how to save his winged friend from being destroyed.

Uptown dragon is a delightfully creative book that is sure to be a hit among upper elementary school students. Kamal is imaginative and relatable, and the fact that he happens to be an African American male is the icing on the cake. He is being raised by a single mother who is young, beautiful and hard-working.

This book has it all! Mr. McKenney's prose is fast-paced and fun, and his illustrations are the stuff of dreams. Use this book as a handbook for art classes, or as an inspiration for "pet tales."

Stand Up For Something


Get ready to listen to one of the most powerful songs out there. Even though it debuted in 2017 as the theme song for the Movie "Marshall," starring the late great Chadwick Boseman, this unforgettable song still strikes a chord for activists and change-makers all over the world.

Without further ado, here are the lyrics of...

Performed by Andra Day and Common
Songwriters: Diane Eve Warren / Lonnie Rashid Lynn (Common)
Album: Marshall (Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture) (2017)

You can have all the money in your hands
All the possessions anyone can ever have
But it's all worthless treasure
True worth is only measured not by what you got
But what you got in your heart
You can have, you can have everything
But what does it, what does it mean

It all means nothing
If you don't stand up for something
You can't just talk the talk
You got to walk that walk yes you do
It all means nothing
If you don't stand up for something
And I'll stand up for you
And I'll stand up for you
yes I will, yes I will

You do the best to do the best that you can do
Then you can look in the mirror
proud of who's looking back at you
Define the life you're living
Not by what you take but what you're giving
And if you bet on love no way you'll ever lose
take a stand, make a stand for what's right
It's always worth, always worth the fight

‘Cuz It all means nothing
If you don't stand up for something
You can't just talk the talk
You got to walk that walk, yes you do
It all means nothing
If you don't stand up for something
and I'll stand up for you

Self respect, dignity
If that's all you got
Then you got all you need
And without that you don't have a thing

It all means nothing
If you don't stand up for something
You can't just talk the talk
You got to walk that walk, yes you do
It all means nothing
If you don't stand up for something
and I'll stand up for you

FAIR USE: The Black History Channel may contain copyrighted content not authorized for use by the owner, such as the video music above. Our use of this copyrighted content falls under the guidelines of fair use. See Section 107 of the Copyright Act.

If I Had a Vampire Bat


Halloween is coming, and the perfect book to help you prepare is If I Had a Vampire Bat.

Written by Gabby Dawnay, If I had a Vampire Bat is the next installment in the line of “If I Had a…” books. It is the spooky, rhyming saga of a little girl with a wild imagination who dreams of the fun she would have if only she had a vampire bat as a pet. She and her bat would sleep all day and play by the light of the moon. Their pointy teeth would give the dentist a fright, and they would make a point of marching past spooky graveyards or playing games at a creepy moonlit playground.

Artist Alex Barrow fills this book with eye-popping illustrations: everything from skeletons dancing to mummies glaring and ghosts playing cards. Readers will find it hard to distinguish which characters are the real spooks and which are the cleverly-disguised trick-or-treater’s on the prowl for some delicious Halloween candy.

One quibble: The part about vampires eat drinking blood. The section on the vampire bat’s meal reads:

“Vampire bats need lots of blood, so she would have to munch… a large amount for breakfast, then a jug or two for lunch!”

Yes, this reviewer realizes that vampires traditionally drink blood, but the thought of WHERE these quarts of blood come from in the first place is a bit off-putting. However, the book is so lively and playful, this brief section can be overlooked as the reader turns the pages for more fun, fun, fun.

Told in almost flawless rhyme and meter, this adorable little book offers loads of fun for Halloween night and the celebrations leading up to “trick or treat.” The prose is fast-paced and funny, and the illustrations are all a child could wish for on Halloween — complete with spooky graveyards, brooding shadows, moon-lit skies, and creepy characters. Enjoy!

A similar review appears on our sister site, Picture Book Depot: https://picturebookdepot .com/2022/if-i-had-a-vampire-bat/

Sarah Rising


Times are such that we cannot always protect the most innocent members of society from the harsh realities of life. One of those realities is the killing of unarmed Black Americans by policemen (including George Floyd), and the protests that follow.

Sarah Rising is a new picture book by Ty Chapman that addresses the harsh reality of such random, violent deaths and the outraged protests designed to bring about change. In the book, young Sarah's innocent world is turned upside down when her father tells her that the police have killed another black person. He tells Sarah they are going to do their part to stand against this violence by participating in a protest march.

Sarah is not used to so many angry, focused faces, and she clings to her father's hand as they march to the cries of "No justice, no peace." Sarah soon becomes distracted by a Monarch butterfly that flutters off through the crowd, and she follows it. In no time, Sarah realizes that she is now separated from her father and alone in the shouting crowd. When an angry policeman swats the lovely butterfly to the ground, Sarah rushes to rescue it. That's when the policeman yells for her to get back and Sarah feels the full force of his hatred. She wants her father, but she has no idea where he is. Will one of these shouting people show her the same kindness she shows the butterfly, and help her find her father?

Sarah Rising is a layered book that deals with several sensitive subjects, like death, oppression, and extreme racism. It helps that the book is written in first person, and is therefore told through the eyes of an innocent child. This way, other young children will more easily understand that shouting protesters are not necessarily bad (even if the media paints them that way), and policemen are not always good, even though they officially have the law on their side. And while it is true that such realizations may prove confusing and even frightening to young children, this subject matter must be introduced as soon as possible to young children simply because that is the world we live in today. The prose is age-appropriate, and the illustrations by artist Deann Wiley capture the anger, shock, compassion and courage that are a part of every violent incident and the protest that follows it.

Use this book to introduce conversations about racism, police killings, protests, Black Lives Matter, and standing up for what one believes.

A similar review of this book appears on our sister site, Picture Book Depot: https:// picturebookdepot.com/2022/sarah-rising/

Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round


Martin Luther King Jr. Day is almost here! On Monday, January 17, 2022, the United States will be celebrating the life, hopes, struggles and accomplishments -- and the birthday -- of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But first things first: have you ever wondered how that holiday came into existence? Author Kathlyn J. Kirkwood answers this question and more in her new book, Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day. It is the amazing true story of how one young "foot soldier" marched, cheered and campaigned to help make the dream of a national holiday a reality.

The book opens up with fresh-faced Memphis, Tennessee native Kathlyn playing the clarinet, performing in her high school marching band, and serving as editor of her school's yearbook. Like other mindful young African Americans of her time, Kathlyn had heard of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his quest to help African Americans and people of color achieve freedom, justice and equality for all. She knew about the strikes, boycotts and marching going on across the south. She also knew that Dr. King was coming to Memphis -- of all places! -- to march for oppressed sanitation workers, and she made up her mind to be a part of it.

Rioters and agitators turned the march into a stampede, which was a shocking introduction to violence for Kathlyn. But since Dr. King was unfazed, his fans and followers were determined to push forward. Dr. King soon returned to Memphis on March 3, 1968 to continue his support. He gave his famous speech about being on the mountain top and seeing the Promised Land, only to shot and killed the next day on March 4, 1968!

Life took twists and turns for Kathlyn after that, not only because Dr. King had been killed but because life is always full of twists and turns. Some years Kathly marched for the cause, and sometimes she took a break and lived her life. She went to college, she got married, she even had a child... but she never forgot Dr. King and all he stood for. And when the opportunity came back around some years later, she put her marching shoes back on and marched to bring recognition to Dr. King's contributions so a national holiday could be named after him.

Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day is a moving account of a young girl's innocence, ideals, shocking introduction to violence and death, and ultimately, her contribution to the cause for equality and justice. Fresh, fast-paced, and written in verse, this memoir is sprinkled with hope, fear, and the courage to do what's right, no matter the cost. In addition to illustrations by Ms. Steffi Walthall, Ms. Kirkwood has included authentic photos, flyers, invitations and posters that offer a glimpse into those glorious and tragic days before and after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This amazing book should do well as a discussion-starter in middle- and high-school social studies, citizenship, and history classrooms. Great original content for Black History Month!



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