The Cart That Carried Martin

Overview

The strength and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. permeates this picture book about the funeral of Dr. King in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968. Quiet, yet affecting, THE CART THAT CARRIED MARTIN is a unique tribute to the life of a man known world-wide for his outstanding efforts as a leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Eve Bunting focuses on the funeral procession of Dr. King, beginning with the two men who found the cart to carry him through the streets of ...

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Overview

The strength and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. permeates this picture book about the funeral of Dr. King in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968. Quiet, yet affecting, THE CART THAT CARRIED MARTIN is a unique tribute to the life of a man known world-wide for his outstanding efforts as a leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Eve Bunting focuses on the funeral procession of Dr. King, beginning with the two men who found the cart to carry him through the streets of Atlanta. After painting it green, two mules named Belle and Ada are hitched to the cart where Dr. King’s coffin is placed. Tens of thousands of mourners gather as the cart makes its way to Ebenezer Baptist Church, and then past the Georgia state capitol to Morehouse College. All the while, crowds of people pay their respects by singing songs of hope.

Bunting’s thoughtful, well-chosen words, coupled with Don Tate’s soft colors provide the reader with a sense of hope and reverence, rather than the grief and despair one might expect.

Back matter includes a brief introduction to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work, assassination, and funeral, accompanied by a full-color historical photograph of the real cart, drawn by Belle and Ada.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
Though her narrative—following the cart from the shop to its current home at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site—has a simple trajectory, Bunting's writing brings out the emotional weight of the day…
Publishers Weekly
09/30/2013
Bunting’s (Have You Seen My New Blue Socks?) impressionistic, dramatic recreation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral procession covers much of the same ground as Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud (2011). In clipped prose, Bunting writes of the weather-beaten farm cart borrowed for the job (“Its paint had faded.... Nobody wanted it”) and of the thousands who came out to pay final respects: “The church throbbed with the sounds of singing. The songs were not sad, but there was a terrible sadness in them anyway.” Tate’s (Hope’s Gift) loose pencil and gouache art balances emotionally charged close-up images of mourners with broader scenes in which crowds flank the mule-drawn cart on its journey through Atlanta. In a birds-eye view of the scene at King’s alma mater, Morehouse College, a vast, gray sea of people fills the school’s quadrangle for a second memorial service. The final pages reveal the cart’s current home and further emphasize the humility of a vehicle “that, not so long ago, carried greatness.” Ages 6–9. Illustrator’s agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Bunting's text begins with the titular cart, located outside "Cook's Antiques and Stuff. Nobody wanted it." Inspired by an article about the funeral wagon that carried the body of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. three and a half miles through Atlanta in 1968; this beautiful picture book is a blend of quiet text and evocative images. The mules pulling the cart add an understated poignancy, given the history of slavery and the gift of a mule and land to freed slaves upon emancipation. As the crowds build for the funeral, the full-page spreads begin to acquire the terrible, sad energy of the event to come. Stillness and reflection add nuance to the momentum of the narrative. In turn the storyline conveys the energy of the man at its heart, whose life was so prematurely cut short. Bunting's text depicts moments of music and of "holy silence" before pointing us to the widow's "grief hidden by her veil." That spread contains an image that fades away on the edge of the verso page, as if the funeral itself were an event fading into time, yet resurrected here for us to meditate upon. The perspective from above focuses the eye on the simple cart offset to the right of the gutter, bringing text and image together in a perfect picture book moment. Don Tate's pencil and gouache illustrations offer up another transcendent moment in the final spread, in which a single line of text is illustrated by the larger than life figure of Dr. King in familiar oratorical stance. In all, this book is a gift to young readers, providing a hopeful, reverent view of a tragic historical event. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
Kirkus Reviews
2013-08-15
An old, unwanted cart becomes part of Dr. Martin Luther King's funeral procession. Two men borrow the cart from an antiques store and paint it green, the color of freshly watered grass. They take it to the Ebenezer Baptist Church and hitch two mules to it. Outside the church, crowds gather, while inside, the pews are filled with a weeping congregation. Slowly, the mules pull the cart carrying Dr. King's coffin through the streets of Atlanta to Morehouse College for a second service. The cart, its day's journey completed, is now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Bunting uses simple declarative sentences to capture the sorrow of the day and the message that King's followers were intent upon proclaiming--his greatness came from humble beginnings. The mules, Belle and Ada, were a reminder that upon freedom, slaves were given forty acres and a mule. Tate's pencil-and-gouache artwork plays up the details of the cart and the two mules while depicting the crowds of mourners less distinctly. Adults looking for a title to share with young readers will find this helpful in imparting the emotions raised by King's assassination. An affecting snapshot of a tragic day. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-7)
School Library Journal
11/01/2013
K-Gr 2—Bunting's quietly sorrowful prose is rather like free-verse poetry, maximizing the power of the story of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral with minimal language. This event needs no adornment; from the soaring hymns sung in Ebenezer Baptist Church to the size of the crowds along the procession route to the humble farm cart that carried King's body, the details of the day speak forcefully to the impact of this man on society. Bunting focuses in particular on the rough-hewn cart, borrowed from a junk store and given a coat of green paint for the procession from the church to Morehouse College. The cart was hitched to a pair of mules and guided through the streets of Atlanta, carrying the civil rights leader's body past thousands of mourners, whose hushed reverence is echoed in Bunting's sparing, soft narrative. Tate also employs a quietness in his artwork. Whereas bold colors would suit a book about King's activism, the soft wash of the illustrations is appropriate to his silenced voice and the stillness of his grieving followers. This beautiful presentation, centered on a humble detail, is a gentle, stirring introduction to what Martin Luther King, Jr.-and his loss-signified.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580893879
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 381,703
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 430L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Eve Bunting has written more than two hundred books for young readers, including THE BABY SHOWER, THE WEDDING, and SMOKY NIGHT, the winner of the 1995 Caldecott Medal. Her books are often about important social issues. Born in Ireland, she now lives in California.

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