when thunder comes

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra, and Meilo So

These poems celebrate heroes who have fought for civil rights.  Each poem focuses on one person, tells their story in imagery and strength.  Seventeen men and women are on the pages here, people from around the world and from the American Civil Rights Movement.  These are heroes who fought for justice and for equality.  Their stories and these poems are filled with courage, vision and a sense of doing what is right.  They will serve as inspiration for future generations who will have their own civil rights struggles to face.

Lewis has created poems that are both art but also informational.  He offers critical details in understanding what these heroes have been through and what they have accomplished.  At the same time, he reaches the heart of the person through his poetry too, showing the humanity about them as well.

The art in this book of poems was done by five illustrators.  The images range from the bright colors of Chinatown to the darkness of murder in Mississippi.  In every image though, readers see a leader who radiates courage.  The different art styles come together to form a tapestry of that courage.

Strong and powerful, this book of poetry deserves to be shared widely and these names known and understood.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.