Cover image for Portraits of African-American heroes
Portraits of African-American heroes
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, c2003.
Physical Description:
88 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.
Frederick Douglass -- Matthew Henson -- W.E.B. Du Bois -- Mary McLeod Bethune -- Bessie Coleman -- Paul Robeson -- Satchel Paige -- Thurgood Marshall -- Pauli Murray -- Joe Louis -- Gwendolyn Brooks -- Jacob Lawrence -- Dizzy Gillespie -- Shirley Chisholm -- Malcolm X -- Martin Luther King, Jr. -- Charlayne Hunter-Gault -- Judith Jamison -- Ruth Simmons -- Ben Carson.
Reading Level:
1140 L Lexile
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 920 BOL 0 1

On Order



Here, ideal for African-American History Month, is a stunningly beautiful book consisting of portraits-in pictures and words-of twenty outstanding African-Americans. The individuals range from historical to contemporary figures, such as the dancer Judith Jamison, and represent diverse fields of endeavor, from the law (Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall) to athletics, science, and more. For each individual, there is a three-page biography by the noted author Tonya Bolden and a striking black-and-white portrait that captures not only the subject's likeness but is a work of art in itself. A book to inspire, to teach, or to display, with its large trim size and striking design, it is as handsome as it is important.

Paintings by Ansel Pitcairn.

Author Notes

Tonya Bolden is the author of ten books, including "Strong Men Keep Coming", "The Family Heirloom Cookbook", & "33 Things Every Girl Should Know". She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-While there is a wealth of information currently available to children about African-American historical figures, there is still a great deal of room for more biographies of contemporary African-American achievers. Bolden profiles 20 people, ranging from Matthew Henson, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to Paul Robeson, Ruth Simmons, Judith Jamison, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The sketches, as the author states in the introduction, are intended to capture something of the essence of these people. She succeeds by using lively language, anecdotal information, and quotations from the subjects themselves. The book is arranged chronologically, beginning with Frederick Douglass, born around 1818, and ending with Ben Carson, born in 1951. Each entry is accompanied by a striking, if somewhat glamorized, full-page portrait done in deep, rich shades of brown. A smaller painting of the subject appears on the final page of the profile. A lengthy list of suggested reading is appended. A fine addition to any library.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

A number of nonfiction texts give voice to important historical events and figures. Visually captivating and rich in detail, Portraits of African-American Heroes by Tonya Bolden, illus. by Ansel Pitcairn, traces the lives and achievements of 10 iconic African-Americans. Bolden selects men and women from periods throughout American history, from Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to Malcolm X and Ruth Simmons. Pitcairn captures the heroic personages of Bolden's subjects, activists and artists, intellectuals and explorers in b&w paintings (a portrait of Matthew Henson depicts him, fittingly, with a parka, as he accompanied Admiral Peary; they were the first two explorers to set foot on the North Pole). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Twenty profiles focus on how each person overcame obstacles in order to reach his or her goals. A fluid writing style and the range of personalities--from Frederick Douglass to Joe Louis to Judith Jamison--will appeal to a wide audience. Pitcairn's paintings bring these heroes to life. Reading list, source notes. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

In an informative introduction, the editor, artist, and author discuss the process used to select the inspirational African-Americans for these "studies in true grit." There are 20 entries that "capture something of the essence" of the likes of Judith Jamison, Pauli Murray, Ruth Simmons, Ben Carson, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault along with the more familiar Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, and Thurgood Marshall. Bolden's essays focus on those elements of their characters that enabled them to make full use of their particular talents and to persevere in spite of everything that was stacked against them. Each essay includes a highlighted quotation to further illuminate each person's particular philosophy. A compelling full-page sepia portrait of each subject, as well as a smaller illustration that depicts a detail or another mood accompanies each entry. Pitcairn seems unerringly to have captured the souls of these remarkable people. A fascinating and unique collection. (Collected biography. 7+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. Well known for her books on notable personalities, among them The Book of African American Women (1997), Bolden offers another winning collection of 20 biographical essays. From Dizzy Gillespie and W. E. B. Du Bois to Gwendolyn Brooks andudithamison, the collection ranges from historical to contemporary figures who made their mark in fields as diverse as athletics, politics, science, and the arts. Each profile lists expected biographical information, but offers even more by way of keen insights into a subject's personality based on interviews and information drawn from personal memoirs. Readers get a sense of the childhood dreams of journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, for instance, when they learn that comic-strip ace Brenda Starr first stirred Hunter-Gault's desire to report the news. Pitcairn's beautifully rendered sepia-toned portraits make each subject jump from the page, beckoning children to come ever closer and learn. Source notes and a suggested reading list are appended. --Terry Glover Copyright 2004 Booklist