A complex piece of history is told in simple language.
This nonfiction beginning reader highlights the role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington on Aug., 28, 1963. It also features a constellation of other activists who fought for African-Americans’ civil rights, some of whom the text names, such as gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who often inspired Dr. King through song before he spoke, as at the march. Other activists appear only in the illustrations, and Comport leaves it to the reader to figure out who they are, such as the iconic image of Ruby Bridges being accompanied from William Frantz Elementary School by federal marshals in New Orleans and Rosa Parks sitting on a front bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. Unlike Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier’s Martin’s Big Words (2001), this snapshot of Dr. King’s life does not include his assassination, but it also does not sugarcoat conflicts endemic to the civil rights movement. On one page, while a young black man waits to be served at a lunch counter, four young white men surround him in anger. On another, Dr. King sits thoughtfully behind jail bars. Comport’s artfully textured illustrations, rendered in muted colors, capture both the time period and the mood of these emotionally charged scenes well.
An excellent text to introduce nascent readers to Dr. King’s story. (author’s note) (Informational early reader. 6-9)