“Bold & Brave,” by Kirsten Gillibrand; illustrated by Maira Kalman. (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Bold & Brave

“When my grandmother was born, women didn’t have the right to vote,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand writes in the opening pages of “Bold & Brave” (Knopf, ages 5 to 10), her vivid picture book about the women who helped change that. Gillibrand’s clear, one-page biographies include familiar figures , such as Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Church Terrell and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Gillibrand also writes about Ida B. Wells, who spoke truth to power and confronted injustice and inequality everywhere, and Inez Milholland, a lawyer and activist who led the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade. Accompanying the stories are Maira Kalman’s vibrant gouache portraits of these determined women, often standing alone against figures of authority. The robust pinks and yellows in these lively illustrations are both feminine and fiery, channeling a sunrise palette of hope and change. The right to vote also meant, of course, the right to hold public office, to help make the laws by serving in local and state legislatures, and to be elected to the U.S. Congress. This is a terrific, handsome look at a long — and unfinished — story of courage and persistence.

Kathie Meizner


“Unpresidented,” by Martha Brockenbrough. (Feiwel & Friends)
Unpresidented

One of the first biographies for young readers about our current president, “Unpresidented” (Feiwel & Friends, ages 12 and up) is well-researched and sugarcoats neither his actions nor his words. Author Martha Brockenbrough begins with President Trump’s German immigrant grandfather and explains how he and Trump’s father built a real estate business that Trump eventually inherited. Readers will learn about the many risks Trump took throughout his career, as he jumped into such enterprises as casinos, for-profit education and TV. Following Trump until July 2018, the book explores how the president’s attacks on the free press, the Justice Department and his political enemies distorted factual evidence and shored up his power in unprecedented ways. Rated R for language (by Trump and his former communications director Anthony Scaramucci), “Unpresidented” is suitable for both teenagers and adults.

Abby McGanney Nolan


“Tales from the Inner City,” by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine)
Tales from the Inner City

As the clock seems to tick down on our shared, increasingly fragile planet, “Tales of the Inner City” (Arthur A. Levine, ages 12 and up) is an evocative and cautionary tale: Appreciate the otherness of creatures you may never understand, be awestruck, tender, grateful. As one animal character puts it, “The world is ours!” In luminously illustrated short stories and poems, Shaun Tan (“Tales from Outer Suburbia”) probes the relationship between animals and humans. Moments of connection and clarity cut through the city’s chatter and traffic: the “weightless blessing” of an enormous cloud of butterflies, a snowy owl’s reassuring hospital vigil, a child prodigy’s dream of the “muddy eternity” of hippos. But the tales also suggest a world unbalanced, where the “river flows wrongly” and executives transform into “delicate” frogs. Bemused narrators lament the limits of language; and some of the most touching stories celebrate wordless communion, as when caretakers take a quiet pig on a moonlit romp and a child sees the galloping souls of horses.

Mary Quattlebaum