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BIRMINGHAM, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford Kirkus Star


by Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-59078-440-2
Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Exquisitely understated design lends visual potency to a searing poetic evocation of the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. The unnamed fictional narrator relates the events of “[t]he year I turned ten,” this refrain introducing such domestic commonplaces as her first sip of coffee and “doz[ing] on Mama’s shoulder” at church. She juxtaposes these against the momentous events of the year: the Children’s March in Birmingham for which the narrator missed school, the March on Washington and the mass meetings at church that she found so soporific. The same matter-of-fact tone continues to relate what happened “[t]he day I turned ten:” “10:22 a.m. The clock stopped, and Jesus’ face / Was blown out of the only stained-glass window / Left standing. . . . ” Documentary gray dominates the palette, the only color angry streaks of red that evoke shattered window frames. The poems appear on recto accompanied by images of childhood—patent-leather shoes, pencils, bobby socks—while full-bleed archival photographs face them on verso. It’s a gorgeous memorial to the four killed on that horrible day, and to the thousands of children who braved violence to help change the world. (Poetry. 10-14)