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LEON'S STORY by Leon Walter Tillage


by Leon Walter Tillage & illustrated by Susan L. Roth

Age Range: 8 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1997
ISBN: 0-374-34379-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 Tillage, a black custodian in a Baltimore private school, reminisces about his childhood as a sharecropper's son in the South, and his youth as a civil-rights protester. He explains the mechanics of sharecropping and segregation, tells of his mistreatment and his father's murder at the hands of white teenagers out to ``have some fun,'' and relates his experiences with police dogs, fire hoses, and jail while following Martin Luther King's ideas of nonviolent protest. Tillage matter-of-factly recounts horrific events, using spare language that is laced with remarkable wisdom, compassion, and optimism. Such gentleness only gives his story more power, as he drives home the harder realities of his childhood. Although the collage illustrations are interesting, they are too moody and remote for the human spirit behind the words, and readers will regret Roth's decision--especially in light of the boy smiling so brightly on the cover--that ``even one photo would be too many for Leon Walter Tillage's words.'' (Memoir. 8-14)