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RICHARD WRIGHT AND THE LIBRARY CARD by William Miller

RICHARD WRIGHT AND THE LIBRARY CARD

By William Miller (Author) , Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-880000-57-1
Publisher: Lee & Low

 An episode from the autobiography of Richard Wright is skillfully fictionalized, resulting in a suspenseful and gratifying story about the power of reading. Growing up in the South in the 1920s, Wright was eager to learn to read, but barred from using libraries because of his race. When he was 17, he went alone to Memphis, where he convinced a white man, Jim Falk, to lend him his library card (so that he could check out books by pretending to get them for Falk). There is a perceptible sense of danger as the librarian (a caricature) quizzes him, and triumph when a whole new world is opened to Wright, who is shown reading all night. While background details are softened and ``colored boy'' is the worst epithet in the book, the book is true to the essence of the events described. Christie's illustrations complement the text; he concentrates on the characters' faces and allows other details to remain less distinct. Readers see Wright's expression change, from when he is alone and most himself, to when he must put on a mask to be safe, to avoid confronting white people. A challenging endeavor, and an accomplished one. (Picture book. 5-9)