Friday, February 24, 2017

PPBF: Champions for Equal Rights

There's no official Perfect Picture Book Friday today, but I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce a few of the worthwhile picture books I've read this fall.

Today's theme is Civil Rights!

The Youngest Marcher, The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks
The Youngest Marcher 

Written by Cynthia Levinson
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2017
Ages 6-11, 40 pp

Biography, Nonfiction, Civil Rights

"Whenever Mike flew into town, Audrey and her mama COO-OOKED!
Barbecued ribs, stewed greens, sweet potatoe souffl√©, and Audrey's favorite—hot rolls baptized in butter."

I didn't know the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks. Her family used to host Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he came to town. They called him Mike, and he sat at their dinner table with other famous activists, and he inspired young Audrey with his dreams. So when the call went out for children to march for equal rights, Audrey was at the head of the line. She and hundreds of other students protested segregation in what is now known as the Children's Crusade of 1963. Audrey was the youngest child arrested and jailed. This picture book is told from her point of view and based on an interview with Audrey. The book includes a recipe for Audrey's mama's "hot rolls baptized in butter" and standard back matter. It was well thought out and executed. Definitely a book kids should read. The children involved in the march, like young Audrey, were not flippantly rebellious, but deeply committed to changing injustice. This book offers a peek into their times.

 For another PPBF review of this book, check out the post from Joanna on Miss Marple's Musings.

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of young John Lewis
Preaching to the Chickens

Written by Jabari Asim
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2016
Ages 5-10, 32 pp, 840L

Biography, Nonfiction, Civil Rights

"Little John Lewis loved the spring. He loved it because it was the time when not only the whole planet came alive, but also because it was the season of the chicks. Winter was too cold to bring them safely into the world, and summer was too hot. Spring was just right.

"Everyone on the farm had work to do. 'Work and put your trust in God,' his mama liked to say, 'and God's gonna take care of His children.'"

This book is beautiful, words and pictures. It tells a story of the gentle soul who is John Lewis, leader in the Civil Rights Movement, founder of the Freedom Riders, member of the House of Representatives. When John was small, he used to take care of the family chickens, a job that taught him compassion and duty. And he used to preach to them, to the amusement of his family. This book is based on an interview with John Lewis, and his recollection of his chicken-tending days. Using a warm, authentic, genuine voice and sparkling dialogue, the author sends a powerful message, particularly to those of us who call ourselves Christians, to allow God's Word to change our thinking and to live out the principles we find there. The included author's note tells more about John Lewis's later accomplishments. I love how the text weaves early experiences as influences for adult decisions.

For a thorough review, visit fellow PPBF participant, Joanna on Miss Marple's Musings.

The First Step:
How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial
The First Step

Written by Susan E. Goodman
Illustrated by  E. B. Lewis

Bloomsbury USA, 2016
Ages 6-9, 40 pp, 740L

Biography, Nonfiction, Segregation

Sarah Roberts was four years old when she started school in April 1847. Even though it was spring, icy winds still wailed off Boston Harbor near Sarah's home. She was lucky her school was close by.

Sarah Roberts was four years old when she was expelled from her school for being African-American. The only school in Boston which she was allowed to attend had no playground and only one book. Her parents could have fought to make the school better, but they instead fought to ensure that all children everywhere and for all time had an equal opportunity to learn, an equal opportunity for a quality education in their own neighborhood.

This book tackles a huge subject and pares it down into an organized narrative that today's readers can comprehend and sympathize with. This book covers the steps toward desegregation of schools, not just the struggles of the Roberts family. Lewis's illustrations are always expressive, humanizing the subjects, making them real to the reader. Goodman's text is well-written, well-researched, and stirring. This is a great book to add to the historical puzzle.

Lillian's Right to Vote:
A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Lillian's Right to Vote

Written by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Schwartz & Wade, 2015
Ages 5-9, 40 pp., 1030L

Biography, Nonfiction, Civil Rights, Elections

"A very old woman stands at the bottom of a very steep hill. It's Voting Day, she's an American, and by God, she is going to vote. Lillian is her name.

"It's a long haul up that steep hill. It's a long haul when you've been alive for a hundred years. It's a long haul when you've lived the life that Lillian has—and walked so far in her shoes. When Lillian looks up, it's more than blue sky she sees. She sees history."

Lillian Allen's great-great-grandparents were sold as slaves. Her family and families like hers, have been marching uphill for decades: to earn freedom, equality, and the right to vote. Miss Lillian voted for the first black president in 2008. To her that was a culmination of her family's journey. I loved the rhythm of the text, the very personal point of view it represents. The illustrations were masterfully done, separating history from the present, and using symbolism in a way that is easy for kids to grasp. The back matter included context and personal details. I'm not sure I loved the way the story ended, that the youngest readers will understand you vote for someone based on their ideas or character, not on their physical characteristics, but if this book is thoughtfully used, I think it can be a stirring reminder of our nation's historical heritage and a powerful motivation to get it right going forward.

Congratulations: to the winners of Susanna Leonard Hill's Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest. You can read the winning stories on the finalists' post. I highly recommend you read as many submissions as possible by clicking through the links. There were many amazing stories and I learned a lot from entering. I was honored my entry made it into the finals. Our thanks to Susanna and all the judges!

Next Week: PPBF returns with a review of Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way We Talk

Coming Soon: PPBF review of  Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness

Don't Miss: My review of Answering the Cry for Freedom, by Gretchen Woelfle, a middle grade book highlighting the roles of African Americans during the Revolutionary War. Also, last week's PPBF reviewed four books about African American inventors and pioneers.

Check out these and other Perfect Picture books at your local library.

Reviewed by Vivian and Barbara
Reviewed by Wendy

Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Wendy

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!