Review: We March by Shane W. Evans

we march

We March by Shane W. Evans

More than a quarter million people marched on Washington on August 28, 1963.  In simple prose and stirring images, Evans tells the story of one child whose family marched that day.  It is a day of working together, faith, and community that culminates with Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  This picture book invites even the youngest of children to feel the power of that day, the message of racial harmony, and to understand how much more work there is yet to do.

The prose here is so simple that it just barely tells the story of the march.  With just a handful of words on each double-page spread, the words are very brief.  But the story being told here, is much more than those simple words.  Rather than obscuring the power of that day with too much exposition, this minimalist approach lets the transcendent moment in history shine.  The book does end with a page of information about the march for those looking for further details.

Evans’ illustrations are filled with strength.  He uses simple lines that he combines with a mix of painting and collage to get a layered effect in his art.  The colors are a mix of subtle and strong.  The illustrations focus on a single family that day, but also convey the size of the crowd and the diversity of the people marching.

A powerful, simple look at a historic moment, this book shines with its strong message of unity.  A great pick to share any time of the year, it’s one worth highlighting for February’s Black History Month.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Review: A Few Blocks by Cybele Young

few blocks

A Few Blocks by Cybele Young

It was time for school, but Ferdie did not want to go to school.  He wasn’t done playing with his cars, his blocks, or his drawing.  In fact, he was not sure he ever wanted to go to school again.  But Viola held up his coat, called it his cape and invited him to blast off with his rocket-blaster boots.  They fought evil until Ferdie’s boots ran out of fuel.  Ferdie sat down and once again announced that he wasn’t going to school, maybe not ever.  Viola discovered a leaf in the gutter and invited Ferdie to hop on board the ship to find treasure.  Their trip to school continued, moving from one imaginary game to another, until suddenly it was Viola who isn’t sure that she can make it to school.  It was up to Ferdie now to get them that last block to school.

Young’s story is inventive and very readable.  The children going from one game to another is something we see in children’s books.  Viola is a patient leader, guiding Ferdie from one scenario to another despite grumpiness and even tears.  The joy of imagination is clear throughout the book.

The illustrations are exceptional.  They are eye-catching with their fine detail.  Outside of the imaginary worlds, the children and the objects around them are colorless and flat.  When they enter their imaginations, the illustrations are colorful, whimsical, and have dimensions and shadows.  They are sculptural and enticing.

This picture book takes the everyday trip to school and turns it into something extraordinary with its illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

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