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MARTIN’S BIG WORDS by Doreen Rappaport Kirkus Star

MARTIN’S BIG WORDS

The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Doreen Rappaport (Author) , Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7868-0714-8
Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

Beginning with the startling cover, which contains only the face of Martin Luther King Jr., with his smile broad, and his eyes crinkled in laughter, this title intrigues. It’s an homage in words and pictures, in which the author weaves King’s words with her own to present a brief but stately portrait of the American hero. Rappaport explains that as a child King was determined to use “big words,” no doubt the result of listening to his father preach. On many subsequent spreads, King is pictured as an adult, and a direct quote is reproduced in bold type. In fact, King’s words were huge in idealism, delivering a message that was big in simple yet profound ways that can be understood by young readers. In smaller print, Rappaport gives historical context. Her sentences have a directness and symmetry that sets off King’s more transcendent, poetic quotes. Collier’s watercolor and cut-paper-collage illustrations express deep feeling. On the cover and final two portraits, King is depicted with a subtle monochromatic technique, which alludes strongly to a stained-glass metaphor, represented in portraits of King’s church. In other spreads featuring King himself, his face is lit, giving it a powerful visual weight and compelling readers to pay attention. While the cover portrait shows his eyes glancing to the side, in the final portrait he looks directly at the reader, his eyes offering an unmistakable challenge. Author and Illustrator Notes are moving as well as informative, and quotes are attributed. Readers will hear his voice echo in this presentation. (timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 5-9)