The Children’s Poet Laureate salutes 15 men and women, including one child, who spoke out and acted for equality and liberty, several at the cost of their lives.
The names are familiar: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, Harvey Milk, Josh Gibson, Aung San Suu Kyi. They are less well-known: Mitsuye Endo, Helen Zia, Sylvia Mendez, Dennis James Banks, Muhammad Yunus. They are wives or mothers: Coretta Scott King, Mamie Carthan Till. One is a child, Sylvia Mendez, who wanted to attend a whites-only school in California. Three died too young on a dark road in Mississippi: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Cheney. All receive a stirring page of rhymed verse accompanied by a single- or double-page spread painting created by one of five artists: Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra and Meilo So. So’s bright colors against a white background speak of affirmation and pride for Kyi, Zia and Milk, while Burke’s somber palette evokes the fear of the three civil rights workers and the “nightmare world” of Mandela’s imprisonment. Parra decorates his pages with details from the lives of Mendez, Yunus and Endo. From political activists to an astronaut and from baseball legends to a typist in a World War II internment camp, they raised their voices and sometimes their fists.
Somber and inspirational. (thumbnail sketches) (Poetry. 10-16)