I've Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most celebrated figures of the twentieth century.

Set against key moments of the civil rights movement, here is the story of the powerful, eloquent spiritual leader and his belief that nonviolence could be used to overcome racial discrimination.

Walter Dean Myers's moving narrative and Leonard Jenkins's compelling paintings convey a vivid and striking image of the man who moved American society closer ...

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most celebrated figures of the twentieth century.

Set against key moments of the civil rights movement, here is the story of the powerful, eloquent spiritual leader and his belief that nonviolence could be used to overcome racial discrimination.

Walter Dean Myers's moving narrative and Leonard Jenkins's compelling paintings convey a vivid and striking image of the man who moved American society closer to the ideals of freedom and fairness. Dr. King's dream that all Americans would be judged by their individual actions and character is one we still cherish today.

Pictures and easy-to-read text introduce the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although in their Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly Myers and Jenkins concentrated a great deal on Malcolm X's childhood, in this concise chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.'s crusade for civil rights, they highlight the pivotal points in his work. They begin with his role as leader of the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., sparked by Rosa Parks's arrest after she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Mohandas Gandhi, Malcolm X and John F. Kennedy number among those whom the author cites as individuals who touched the life of this remarkable Nobel Peace Prize winner. Myers's balanced narrative touches upon King's triumphs (notably his renowned "I Have a Dream Speech," delivered during the 1963 March on Washington) as well as the hatred and brutality he endured during his lifetime. Jenkins's (A Good Night for Freedom, reviewed above) mixed-media paintings are involving but never graphic (he illustrates assault by fire hose and dogs, for instance, with an abstract painting of shadowy silhouettes of policemen and a dog tugging a piece of clothing). This picture book soars to the heart of King's mission, demonstrating the challenges of adhering to nonviolent methods when faced with so much violence in return. Jenkins's boldly hued illustrations capture lifelike renderings of King and other prominent figures while also incorporating backgrounds with a kaleidoscopic amalgam of shapes and symbols. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
As in all Walter Dean Myers' books, his straightforward words compel the reader to attend. It is the violence of color and image in Jenkins' illustrations that adds a powerful depth to those words. Myers chooses to tell about the Montgomery bus boycott, jail, the March on Washington, Malcolm X's and John F. Kennedy's assassinations, and the final protest march in Memphis that ended a few days later in Dr. King's death. He writes not a biography as much as an exploration of whether Dr. King achieved his desires. Myers contrasts the violence against those who were struggling to obtain justice with Dr King's belief in nonviolence as a means of bringing the demands of justice to reality. The reader is left with uncertainty as to which prevailed. Unfortunately, reducing these events to a few pages creates the same problems that brief treatments in history texts do; for example, he writes that the bus boycott was in response to Mrs. Parks' arrest, creating a background for Dr. King's participation, though the boycott had long been planned and was awaiting the right opportunity to be put into action. Myers' and Jenkins' invitation to share Dr. King's vision of the promised land is certainly a book parents or teachers could share with children, but the readability and illustrations are more appropriate for older children. 2004, HarperCollins, Ages 5 to 8.
—Diane Carver Sekeres
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This eloquent picture book presents a brief overview of King's life and accomplishments. The text focuses on events beginning with the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks and King's leadership during the yearlong boycott that eventually resulted in the integration of buses in Montgomery, AL. The book ends with his support of the striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968 and his assassination a few days later. In a clear and cogent manner, Myers frames King's political efforts and his belief in nonviolent demonstration for change with information about the personal consequences to the man and his family. The author also paraphrases some of his subject's most powerful speeches without quoting them directly. Jenkins's stunning collage artwork dramatically reflects the events described in the narrative. Information about how protestors were frequently assaulted is paired with an abstract street scene, the frighteningly toothy profile of a chalk-white guard dog front and center. In a spread depicting King's famous speech about seeing the promised land, he is shown with his arms gracefully yet compellingly uplifted; the power and beauty of his words are reflected in the brightly colored background, while fiery red tones foreshadow his murder. This book makes an excellent starting point to introduce young readers to King and should be coupled with Doreen Rappaport's Martin's Big Words (Hyperion, 2001), which so effectively provides access to the words that made him famous.-Susan M. Moore, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Following up their portrait of Malcolm X (2000), Myers briefly traces Dr. King's career, and Jenkins adds kaleidoscopic collages that both depict major incidents and figures of the Civil Rights movement, and capture the time's turmoil. Dr. King certainly doesn't lack for biographers, but Myers is unusually even-handed, highlighting King's nonviolent philosophy while viewing the Movement's angrier, more violent outbursts with a certain degree of-not sympathy, exactly, but understanding. Though Jenkins's images are sometimes over the top, as when he outfits the four children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing with angel wings, and Myers frequently slips paraphrased lines from Dr. King's speeches into his narrative-"He said that he had been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land. He knew he might not reach that land . . . "-the balance of fact and feeling makes this a strong follow-up to Doreen Rappaport's Martin's Big Words (2002). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062250025
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/26/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,457,058
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Five-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Walter Dean Myers was the acclaimed author of a wide variety of nonfiction and fiction for young people. His nonfiction includes We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart; Now Is Your Time!: The African-American Struggle for Freedom; I've Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told; Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly; and Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam, a Jane Addams Children's Book Award winner. His illustrious list of young adult novels includes Darius & Twig; All the Right Stuff; Lockdown; Dope Sick; Autobiography of My Dead Brother; the New York Times bestseller Monster, which was the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award; and many more. He was the 2012-2013 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and an inaugural NYC Literary Honoree.

Leonard Jenkins received his B.F.A. from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He is the illustrator of Sunflower Island by Carol Greene, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Mr. Jenkins lives in New York City.

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