Poet Laureate Lewis casts a wide net in these stirring poems about civil rights, which highlight figures as multifarious as Gandhi and Harvey Milk, and are illustrated by five artists. The graceful and distinctive paintings offer visual homages to each subject. Milk speaks punctiliously (“They say I came before my time/ but who else would redress/ unmitigated suffering due/ to such small-mindedness?”), while Mitsuye Endo, a Japanese-American woman interned during WWII, speaks with humble defiance: “I was a typist, nothing more./ I loved my life, I hated war.” Children’s books on the subject of civil rights can sometimes result in a generic roundup of instrumental leaders; Lewis’s surprising and welcome integration of lesser-known individuals provides a holistic and enlightening look at an always pertinent topic. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"An unusual introduction to groundbreaking activists and to the profound impact of individuals standing together." Book Links, 2013 Lasting Connections
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2013"
Offers readers a profound understanding of both what it takes to stand up and what happens when we stand together." - Booklist, Starred Review"
Must-have literary treasure" - Reading Today"
Lewis's surprising and welcome integration of lesser-known individuals provides a holistic and enlightening look at an always pertinent topic." - Publishers Weekly , starred review"
Lewis's outstanding collection of 15 poems highlighting national and international civil rights leaders is sobering and inspiring."Language Arts"
Lewis isn't phoning this one in. These poems are straight up honest-to-god works of poetry." - Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse#8 Production, a School Library Journal Blog"
J. Patrick Lewis has done justice to this list of heroes-and make no mistake, these are heroes. " - The Book Aunt"
Inspirational" - Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Lewis once again stretches his own poetic boundaries with this moving and informative collection of poems that introduce 17 courageous leaders of civil rights causes in America, Bangladesh, Burma, India, and South Africa. Some of the names will be unfamiliar to teens, but their concerns should be clearly understood. A technically perfect Shakespearean sonnet prefaces the collection, promising to draw from the poet's "thin bag of verse" some "tales of thunder" … "For history was mute witness when such crimes/Discolored and discredited our times." The poems, written in various styles-rhymed couplets, free verse, quatrain, prose-evoke sadness, but never hopelessness; speak of bigotry and hatred replaced by acceptance and equality; and describe inhumane mistreatment that has resulted in positive change and wrongful punishment that has brought about freedom. To young Sylvia Mendez, every door at the public school "was locked with a secret combination of frowns," but she found the key. To Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker who gave small loans to the country's poor, money for fishing gear allowed some beggars "to catch eel and carp-and profits." Other subjects include Harvey Milk, Coretta Scott King, Josh Gibson, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Nelson Mandela. A note about each person, with a resource, is appended. Five illustrators each contributed three of the full-page paintings that range from softly detailed portraits in lush oils to colorful caricatures, acrylic folk art, and bright watercolors contrasted with shadowy gray. This thoughtfully written, carefully and cleverly worded collection demonstrates Lewis's poetic versatility and his ability to capture the essence of each subject and situation.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
The Children's Poet Laureate salutes 15 men and women, including one child, who spoke out and acted for equality and liberty, several at the cost of their lives. The names are familiar: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, Harvey Milk, Josh Gibson, Aung San Suu Kyi. They are less well-known: Mitsuye Endo, Helen Zia, Sylvia Mendez, Dennis James Banks, Muhammad Yunus. They are wives or mothers: Coretta Scott King, Mamie Carthan Till. One is a child, Sylvia Mendez, who wanted to attend a whites-only school in California. Three died too young on a dark road in Mississippi: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Cheney. All receive a stirring page of rhymed verse accompanied by a single- or double-page spread painting created by one of five artists: Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra and Meilo So. So's bright colors against a white background speak of affirmation and pride for Kyi, Zia and Milk, while Burke's somber palette evokes the fear of the three civil rights workers and the "nightmare world" of Mandela's imprisonment. Parra decorates his pages with details from the lives of Mendez, Yunus and Endo. From political activists to an astronaut and from baseball legends to a typist in a World War II internment camp, they raised their voices and sometimes their fists. Somber and inspirational. (thumbnail sketches) (Poetry. 10-16)