AS GOOD AS ANYBODY

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL’S AMAZING MARCH TOWARD FREEDOM

Two boys, one an African-American, one a Polish Jew, learn from their fathers’ pride and self-respect. Martin’s father believes in looking up instead of down: “The way things are is not the way they always have to be.” Abraham’s father tells him to “walk like a prince, not a peasant . . . we are all God’s children. You are as good as anybody.” Martin experiences the discrimination of his Southern town with “whites only” laws. Abraham witnesses the persecution of his Jewish community as the Nazis rise to power. As adults, Reverend King Jr. and Rabbi Heschel heed their parental guidance, coming together to work for America’s struggle in the civil-rights movement in this powerful, fictionalized account of 1965’s Selma-to-Montgomery march. Colón’s softly textured colored pencil-and-watercolor illustrations render the early Southern scenes in brown/yellow tones and the European settings in blue/green; the colors blend together in the final pages, bringing out the diversity of skin tones in the march for equality. Gentle, powerful and healing. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 13, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-375-83335-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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