This book endeavors to connect children with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by encouraging them to “be a King.”
The title page depicts a group of racially diverse students with one disabled child (there is no visible religious diversity in this image, though there is some later on) as they stream into school. From there, spreads alternate between scenes from Dr. King’s life, illustrated in Ransome’s signature painterly style, and the contemporary students, rendered in a more-informal style with loose outlines and flat blocks of color. Each block of text begins with the phrase “You can be a King.” Often the illustrations complement the text: “Keep the faith of your ancestors” is paired with a spread of Dr. King’s childhood home, pictures of his forebears lining the wall. The students commence work on a mural of Dr. King at school, and the “You can be a King” lessons are shown as the children paint and draw. One uncomfortable spread depicts the child in a wheelchair attempting to add to the mural, but the accessible spots appear to have been completed; the teacher and other children do not help the child to participate, but instead the child bakes cupcakes for the class. In the final spread, the lack of a “Black Lives Matter” sign among the protest signs is notable.
A pretty good, if didactic, resource for adults wanting to help children draw connections between Dr. King’s teachings and their own lives. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)