March: Book 3 by John Lewis

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March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (InfoSoup)

This is the final book in this amazing graphic novel trilogy. Congressman John Lewis concludes his story of the Civil Rights marches, providing real context to the Black Lives Matter movement of today. This book begins with the bombing of the church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four young girls. It shows the fight for the ability to vote in Alabama for African Americans who were forced to take tests or just ignored as they tried to register to vote. The book culminates with the march in Selma and the violence that accompanied it and most importantly the changes it created.

I can’t say enough good things about this series. It brings critical Civil Rights history directly to teens in a format that is engaging. There is no way to turn away from the violence of the response of those in power as blood flows in the images on the pages. It makes it all the more powerful that the marches stayed nonviolent and focused on pacifism. Lewis himself voices again and again how much pressure there was at times in the movement to react more violently and how that was managed by himself and others. It is a testament to people willing to put their own bodies and lives at risk for progress.

The illustrations are riveting. Done in black and white, they effectively play darkness and light against one another, adding to the drama of the situations they depict. At times they are haunting and blaze with tragedy. The opening scenes of the Birmingham church are filled with tension and sadness that make it difficult to turn the pages and witness what happens.

These are the books our teens need right now. Every public library should have this series, no matter what races are represented in your community. This is our shared history and one that we cannot deny or turn away from. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

First Light, First Life by Paul Fleischman

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First Light, First Life: A Worldwide Creation Story by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (InfoSoup)

A companion book for Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal, this picture book looks at creation stories from around the world. From the very beginning of how the universe was formed, then how the earth was formed, how human beings came about and then the animals as well, this book combines a myriad of different cultures into one story with various voices and points of view. With all of the differences, the book still manages to show the universal elements of creation stories and how looking at different cultures allows us to celebrate our humanity as one.

Fleischman captures phrases from different cultures in the book. Structuring the elements into a story all of its own, he allows each culture’s differences to show but also focuses them into a cohesive whole as well. While cultures may differ on how the universe was formed, there is a sense of wholeness in looking at it from so many points of view. The universal aspects shine and the differences ensure that we are still seeing the cultures themselves and their uniqueness.

The illustrations by Paschkis are beautifully elemental, showing each culture, celebrating each one separately. The illustrations also label each culture or region of origin for the story fragments, allowing readers to see the roots of the different stories and how they reflect the area they come from.

Vividly presented, this picture book look at creation itself is a dynamic view of our world’s cultures as well. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.