Kamala Harris Rooted in Justice

writ­ten by Nik­ki Grimes
illus­trat­ed by Lau­ra Free­man
Atheneum, 2020

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Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

About the Book

Dis­cov­er the incred­i­ble sto­ry of a young daugh­ter of immi­grants who would grow up to defend the rights of peo­ple every­where in this mov­ing pic­ture book biog­ra­phy of Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ris.

When Kamala Har­ris was young, she often accom­pa­nied her par­ents to civ­il rights marches—so many, in fact, that when her moth­er asked a frus­trat­ed Kamala what she want­ed, the young girl respond­ed with: “Free­dom!”

As Kamala grew from a small girl in Oak­land to a sen­a­tor run­ning for pres­i­dent, it was this long-fos­tered belief in free­dom and jus­tice for all peo­ple that shaped her into the inspir­ing fig­ure she is today. From fight­ing for the use of a soc­cer field in mid­dle school to fight­ing for the peo­ple of her home state in Con­gress, Sen­a­tor Har­ris used her voice to speak up for what she believed in and for those who were oth­er­wise unheard.

Told in Nik­ki Grimes’s stun­ning verse and fea­tur­ing gor­geous illus­tra­tions by Lau­ra Free­man, this pic­ture book biog­ra­phy brings to life a sto­ry that shows all young peo­ple that the Amer­i­can dream can belong to all of us if we fight for one another.

Awards and Recognition

  • Cen­ter for the Study of Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture Best Books 2020
  • NAACP Image Award Nom­i­na­tion 2021, Out­stand­ing Lit­er­ary Work, Children
  • Nerdies: Best Non­fic­tion Pic­ture Books 2020
  • New York Times Best­seller List 2020–2021
  • Notable Social Stud­ies Trade Book for Young Peo­ple 2021
  • Wis­con­sin State Read­ing Asso­ci­a­tion Pic­ture This Rec­om­mend­ed List



his impor­tant biog­ra­phy of Cal­i­for­nia Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ries comes at an oppor­tune moment, when the 100th anniver­sary of the Nine­teenth Amend­ment inter­sects with the Black Lives Mat­ter Move­ment. Weav­ing a fic­tion­al sto­ry around an account of Har­ris’ fac­tu­al biog­ra­phy, Grimes’ pic­ture book makes it easy for read­ers to iden­ti­fy with the recent Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. The sto­ry begins when an African Amer­i­can girl comes home from school angry that a class­mate told her she could­n’t be pres­i­dent because she’s a girl. Her moth­er then explains how anoth­er girl, of Black and East Indi­an her­itage, recent­ly ran for pres­i­dent. Free­man’s draw­ings work as hard as the prose to flesh out Har­ris’ life with real­is­tic illus­tra­tions of her child­hood and career. The text empha­sizes Har­ris’ com­mit­ment to activism, edu­ca­tion, and hard work. Vignettes show­ing her both protest­ing as a child with her par­ents and lat­er with her sis­ter to express her dis­may with a land­lord’s rule about soc­cer-play­ing on their build­ing’s lawn will res­onate with kids con­ver­sant with recent march­es. A good bet for all libraries.” (Book­list)

Award-win­ning poet and author Grimes offers a pic­ture book biog­ra­phy of U.S. Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ris, who became the first female Dis­trict Attor­ney of San Fran­cis­co and lat­er the first Black woman to serve as attor­ney gen­er­al of Cal­i­for­nia. Born in Oak­land, CA, in 1964, Har­ris was exposed to activism at a young age. When she was still a baby, her par­ents brought Har­ris to civ­il rights march­es and lec­tures by Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Using poet­ic lan­guage and strik­ing imagery, Grimes details the future senator’s life, from her begin­nings to her pres­i­den­tial run in 2020. Freeman’s art­work adds rich details and illu­mi­nates Grimes’s prose. The bright col­ors and back­ground scenes pop on the pages and reflect Harris’s jour­ney. The text focus­es on Harris’s life and career and high­lights the pos­i­tive, inspir­ing aspects of her accom­plish­ments. How­ev­er, Grimes also depicts the strug­gles Har­ris faced, includ­ing per­son­al fail­ures (not pass­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Bar Exam on the first try) and fam­i­ly issues (her par­ents’ divorce at the age of sev­en). A time line and sources are includ­ed in the back mat­ter. VERDICT Penned by word­smith Grimes and vivid­ly illus­trat­ed by Free­man, this is an age-appro­pri­ate depic­tion of a notable fig­ure in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. A wor­thy addi­tion to children’s biog­ra­phy col­lec­tions. (School Library Jour­nal)

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