Due to current events, picture books have a new source of material. They now deal with women of history and women of color of history more than before. And they are “finding” people who had grand impact but are not as well known. Or known outside of their time. And a person I was unfamiliar with was Ella Baker. A woman of both women’s history and black history. A woman who changed policies and in her own way, kicked some butt. Thankfully, Patricia Hruby Powell decided to change my lack of education (okay not just me specifically, but all of us unfamiliar with this pioneer) by creating Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker.
This book follows civil rights activist Ella Baker from when her family member told her to “lift as you climb”, from when she helped the neighbors with their child, and right through the events that follow right up to her thinking Dr. King should have asked, not ordered. Baker was before much of the civil rights movement happened as we know it; but she would not stop when others became involved, she kept fighting.
Gregory Christie’s modern, but also classical feeling, illustrations capture the life of a woman who was in the thick of it all but preferred to be out of the spotlight. She marched, organized, and fought in her own way. The bold, thick, deep colors of Christie’s art compliment the text. The book is slightly longer than a traditional picture book but is not overly dense. In the end, it is aimed at the older listener and reader, but adults as well as students can enjoy.