Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This picture-book biography provides an ideal introduction to this leader and his works. Juxtaposing original text with quotes from King's writing and speeches, Rappaport's (Escape from Slavery) narrative offers a pastiche of scenes from King's life, beginning with his childhood experience of seeing "White Only" signs sprinkled throughout his hometown. He questions his mother about their meaning, and she assures him, "You are as good as anyone." Listening to his father preach, the boy asserts that "When I grow up, I'm going to get big words, too." Rappaport also touches upon King's role in the Montgomery bus strike that followed Rosa Park's 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger and his subsequent efforts as a civil rights crusader. After briefly describing the circumstances of his death, the story concludes, quite abruptly, with the statement, "His big words are alive for us today." The author relies on her subject's own words, and his power, passion and pacifism shine through. Collier's (Uptown) striking watercolor and cut paper collage art feature closely focused, lifelike images of King and other individuals against an inventive montage of patterns and textures. The portraits of King exude his spiritual strength and peaceful visage. In the background of some scenes are intricate recreations of stained glass windows, which, Collier explains in an introductory note, he interprets as a metaphor for King's life. An elegant, understated pictorial biography. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Beginning with the startling cover, which contains only the face of Martin Luther King Jr., with his smile broad, and his eyes crinkled in laughter, this title intrigues. It's an homage in words and pictures, in which the author weaves King's words with her own to present a brief but stately portrait of the American hero. Rappaport explains that as a child King was determined to use "big words," no doubt the result of listening to his father preach. On many subsequent spreads, King is pictured as an adult, and a direct quote is reproduced in bold type. In fact, King's words were huge in idealism, delivering a message that was big in simple yet profound ways that can be understood by young readers. In smaller print, Rappaport gives historical context. Her sentences have a directness and symmetry that sets off King's more transcendent, poetic quotes. Collier's watercolor and cut-paper-collage illustrations express deep feeling. On the cover and final two portraits, King is depicted with a subtle monochromatic technique, which alludes strongly to a stained-glass metaphor, represented in portraits of King's church. In other spreads featuring King himself, his face is lit, giving it a powerful visual weight and compelling readers to pay attention. While the cover portrait shows his eyes glancing to the side, in the final portrait he looks directly at the reader, his eyes offering an unmistakable challenge. Author and Illustrator Notes are moving as well as informative, and quotes are attributed. Readers will hear his voice echo in this presentation. (timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 5-9)
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