A welcome addition to civil rights literature for children.
Ask American children to recall a book on Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks, and most can. Fannie Lou Hamer? They will likely come up short. This expansive, richly illustrated biography about the “voice of the civil rights movement” recounts Hamer’s humble and poverty-stricken beginnings in 1917 as the 20th child of Mississippi sharecroppers through her struggle to fight for the rights of black people on local, regional, and national levels. Hamer’s quotes appear frequently in Weatherford’s free-verse poetry, giving readers a sense of how and what she spoke: “Black people work so hard, and we ain’t got nothin’ / to show for it.” The author also includes painful truths, describing the “night riders’ ” pursuit of Hamer after she attempted to register to vote and a brutal beating at the hands of police following her arrest, from which she suffered lifetime injuries. Hamer’s determination, perseverance, and unwavering resolve come through on every page. Holmes’ quiltlike collage illustrations emphasize the importance Hamer placed on community among African-Americans. Young readers who open this book with just a vague notion of who Fannie Lou Hamer was will wonder no more after absorbing this striking portrait of the singer and activist.
Bold, honest, informative, and unforgettable. (author’s note, timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Picture book/poetry/biography. 10-14)