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BELLE, THE LAST MULE AT GEE'S BEND by Calvin Alexander Ramsey


by Calvin Alexander Ramsey & Bettye Stroud & illustrated by John Holyfield

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4058-3
Publisher: Candlewick

The Civil Rights Movement had many heroes, but none as unusual as Belle.

It’s a hot summer’s day outside a small country store, and a little boy awaiting his mother is surprised to see a mule munching up a garden full of collard greens. An elderly woman invites him to sit next to her on the store bench and shares her memories of Gee’s Bend in 1965, when mules carried the African-American citizens on wagons the long way ’round the river to vote. Martin Luther King, Jr. had spoken to them, and his inspiration kept them going even when white men blocked the ferry. A few years later, in April, 1968, two mules from the town pulled his coffin in Atlanta. One was Belle. This small snapshot of the protest movement pays homage to both the determination of ordinary folk and the power of Dr. King’s words. Holyfield’s intense acrylic paintings, in blues, yellows and browns, evoke the heat and the drama. The extraordinary quilts for which the town is famous have their place of honor, too. A solid choice for parents and teachers who are introducing the 1960s to young children.

An intergenerational story filled with heart and soul. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)