Holding Her Own: The Exceptional Life of Jackie Ormes by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Shannon Wright

Published by Orchard Books

Summary:  Zelda Jackson was an artist, poet, and storyteller who dreamed of working for the Black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier.  She got her break writing a story about boxing that was published using her childhood nickname, Jackie.  Once she was an established columnist, she tried her hand at art, creating a comic strip character named Torchy Brown, a young woman who moved from her home in Mississippi to New York City.  After marriage and a move to Chicago, Jackie worked for the Chicago Defender, creating a new comic called Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, which she used to comment on civil rights and other issues important to Black people.  Jackie became a community activist, using the money she made from her comics to fund causes she believed in, and drawing the attention of the FBI, who spied on her for a decade.  After retiring Patty-Jo, Jackie gave up comics, pursuing other forms of art until her death in 1985.  Includes notes from the author and artist, photos, and a bibliography.  48 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  This fascinating biography with striking comic-style artwork will inspire graphic novel fans who may want to try creating comics of their own and shows them how comics can be used for both fun and communicating a more serious message.

Cons:  I wish there had been a bit more information on Jackie’s post-comics art career.

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