Beacon of Hope

The Life of Barack Obama

Coming Soon


By Doreen Rappaport

Illustrated by Tonya Engel

Formats and Prices




$25.99 CAD


  1. Hardcover $19.99 $25.99 CAD
  2. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $4.99

A magnificently illustrated picture book biography of Barack Obama​: a tireless organizer, a brilliant orator, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the first Black president of the United States of America.

Before he became the president, Barack Obama was a little boy called Barry. Amid a happy childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, he also yearned for a better understanding of Black history and culture, and a better sense of his own identity as a Black American. Spurred by conversations around race, injustice, and inequality, he became a community organizer, practiced civil rights law, and was elected to the US Senate. “Yes we can!” became a rallying cry for his message of hope and change throughout the 2008 presidential election—which resulted in Barack Obama becoming the first Black president of the United States.

This addition to the highly acclaimed Big Words series celebrates one of the most inspiring American leaders of our time. With evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Tonya Engel, Doreen Rappaport’s richly detailed narrative employs rousing quotes from Obama himself and encourages young readers to investigate who they are and who they might one day become.

Don’t miss these other titles in the Big Words series!
Ellen Takes Flight: The Life of Astronaut Ellen Ochoa
Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller
Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Praise for Ellen Takes Flight:

    A Junior Library Guild Selection
    A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
    A 2023 Chicago Public Library Best Informational Book for Young Readers
    ​A Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book of 2023

    A 2024 National Science Teaching Association Best STEM Book
    A CBC Children's and Teacher Favorites List Selection
    A Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Nominee
  • * "The writing is excellent: Essential aspects of astronaut qualifications, training, and experience are described in clear detail.... Brilliant, sure-handed gouache illustrations add even more vivid life to the well-paced text.... A book sure to fly off shelves and into children’s hands."
    Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • * "Inspirational.... Dominguez’s engineering-like mixed-media art fittingly captures the underlying details around Ochoa’s determination and time spent in space."
    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • * "The majestic art is done in gouache, ink, color pencil, and pastel. The paintings are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s work and have incredible detail.... An excellent picture book biography of a groundbreaking Latina that soars."
    School Library Journal, starred review
  • Praise for Ruth Objects:

    ALSC Notable Children’s Books 
    2021 RISE List Top Ten

    Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2021
  • "Velasquez's arresting jacket portrait of Ginsburg, superimposed on a facsimile of the U.S. Constitution, conveys a woman of purpose; Rappaport's biography, largely focused on Ginsburg's work for gender equality, reinforces this first impression."
    Horn Book
  • "Striking."
  • "Insightful and fascinating."
    Kirkus Reviews

On Sale
Jan 14, 2025
Page Count
48 pages

Doreen Rappaport

About the Author

Doreen Rappaport’s nonfiction and historical fiction books have been acclaimed for their meticulous research and varied literary styles. She is the recipient of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, lifetime achievement award for the writing of nonfiction. Her many award-winning biographies include the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier; Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Kadir Nelson; and Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Doreen lives in upstate New York and invites you to visit her online at
Tonya Engel is an award-winning artist and children’s book illustrator. Her personal, autobiographical work can be found in public and private collections around the world. She has received several awards and honors for her illustrations, including the 2020 Septima Clark Book Award for Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book for Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History by Schele Williams. She lives in Houston, Texas, and invites you to visit her online at

Learn more about this author