Review: March: Book Two by John Lewis

march book two

March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

The powerful second book in the March graphic novel series continues the true story of the Civil Rights Movement. Told by John Lewis in the first person, this book captures the dangers and violence faced by the Freedom Riders as they headed into the deep south. The nonviolent campaign for civil rights faced beatings, police brutality, bombs, imprisonment and potential death. Yet they found a way to not only keep going but to continue to press deeper and deeper into the south. This book is a harrowing read that shows how one young man became a leader of in civil rights and politics in America.

Lewis’ personal story allows readers a glimpse of what was happening behind the scenes. Historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X make appearances in the book, and their own personal perspectives on civil rights and nonviolence is shared. The pushback on the nonviolent aspect of the movement is also shown clearly on the page when new people joined the cause. This shift towards more reactionary tactics threatens to undo the progress that had been made to that point.

Thanks to the graphic novel format, there is no turning away from the violence. Beatings are shown up close and will a frenzy that is palpable. The dangers are not minimized nor overly dramatized, they are shown honestly. There are unforgettable moments throughout the novel, some of them small like a boy being encouraged to claw out a civil rights worker’s eyes.  Other moments are larger from the mattress protests in the jail to the march of the children and the police brutality that followed.

Immensely strong and powerful, this graphic novel series allows us to see how much progress was made thanks to these civil rights heroes but also inspires young readers to make more progress against the continued racism in our society. Appropriate for ages 13-15.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang

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Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang

Released March 24, 2015.

In rhythmic rhyme, this picture book celebrates each and every kind of family there is. Starting with families with lots of siblings, the book quickly moves to embrace only children, families with gay and lesbian parents, single parent families, and children who live with extended family. Then the book moves into other differences like step families, adoption, and parents who may or may not be married. Towards the end, the book gains momentum and speed and rushes merrily through silly types of differences in families, that underline how the most important thing in each of these different sorts of families is the love that is there.

The rhyming text has a friendly bounce to it and that ramping up of speed at the end of the book is a great twist and a grand way to reach the loving finale. The book maintains a great sense of humor throughout, both in its words and its illustrations.

The illustrations are done with cartoon cut outs placed on photographic backgrounds and then mounted as pictures in a photo album. The use of both cartoons and photographs gives this book a fresh approach. The illustrations also use animals instead of people, making it all the more friendly and approachable for small children who will enjoy finding their own kind of family on the page, probably more than once!

Funny, friendly and embracing everyone, this picture book is all about the love within families and acceptance for all. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Random House.

2015 Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Short List

The short list for the 25th Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Awards has been announced. Winners will be announced in May. The books are for all ages and must be written in English or Irish by authors or illustrators born or residing in Ireland.  Here is the short list:

When Mr. Dog Bites Apple and Rain

When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

Shh! We Have a Plan Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

The Apple Tart of Hope Daideo

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Daideo by Áine Ní Ghlinn

Only Ever Yours Haiku: más é do thoil é!

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Haiku Más é do thoil é! by Gabriel Rosenstock illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

Primperfect Beyond the Stars: Twelve Tales of Adventure, Magic and Wonder

Primperfect by Deirdre Sullivan

Beyond the Stars compiled by Sarah Webb