Martin’s Dream Day by Kitty Kelley


Martin’s Dream Day by Kitty Kelley, photographs by Stanley Tretick (9781481467667)

This nonfiction picture book uses photographs by legendary White House photographer Tretick to show the story of Martin Luther King, Jr’s historic speech for civil rights. There is an appropriate reverential tone about the day as a whole, the size of the crowds and the speech itself. The book also shows the struggles that led up to the protest, the barriers that stood in the way of racial equality, and the people who stood up for change. While the focus is Martin Luther King Jr., there is also a strong acknowledgement for all of those who fought for civil rights in the United States.

Kelley’s text is straight forward and captures the importance of the day with a laser-like focus. She does use terms and words one rarely sees in picture books and ones that children may need explained to them. Still, this is a picture book probably best shared with an adult who can offer even more of a historical and modern context for the event and the day.

The photographs are simply incredible. It is amazing that one photographer was able to capture so many of them with the density of the crowds and the heat. They tell the story though images, speaking across time. The clothing styles may be vintage but the struggle mirrors that of today, something made all the more evident by the quality of the photographs that capture that same passion and engagement.

A strong piece of nonfiction for children who are living in today’s political environment with other marches surrounding them. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


Review: I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.

i have a dream

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson

The power of Martin Luther King’s words meet the beauty of Nelson’s art in this luminous picture book.  Using lines pulled directly from the latter part of King’s famous I Have a Dream speech, Nelson shows young readers how history was made that day.  From King himself standing before the Lincoln Memorial to the seas of people listening, people of all colors standing side-by-side.  Kadir moves back and forth between capturing the magnificence of King and his speech to images of what the world being dreamed of would look like.  There are beautiful skin tones shown together as well as impressive vistas of the nation.  Pure celebration, this is a picture book that truly captures the heart of King’s speech in a way that children will be able to understand.

Nelson’s art has already won him a Caldecott Honor.  Here he has the courage to take on a famous man at his more memorable moment.  But he doesn’t just show us the history, he illuminates it.  King shines with light, stands with power, and beams with faith.  There is a humanity to him too, somehow Nelson has captured what is beneath the skin too.  Beautifully.

One of my favorite images of the book is the pair of white and black hands joined together.  Against a plain white background, the hands are such a powerful symbol.  Kadir paired those joined hands with a section about faith, so the two joined together become a prayer of their own too. 

This book belongs in every library, both for the historical power of the moment being captured, but also for its exceptional beauty and art.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade Books.