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Suggested for Martin Luther King Day: Martin Rising-Requiem for a King

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MARTIN RISING: Requiem for a King written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is a breathtaking historical account of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s support of the sanitation workers in Memphis who went on strike February 11, 1968, his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech and his assassination on April 4,1968.

This illustrated book for ages 10 and up is beautifully written in poetry and richly illustrated in watercolor, gouache and India ink. The words are engaging as they move the reader through the challenges facing the strikers and the struggles facing Dr. King. Andrea Pinkney calls her narratives “docu-poetry” and invites teachers to have their students read them aloud. The inspired illustrations by Brian Pinkney are characterized by circles of swirling colors that match the ever-growing intensity of the facts on the ground.

The book is divided into three parts: Daylight, Darkness and Dawn. One of the most compelling structures of the storytelling is the inclusion of Henny Penny and her worry that the sky might be falling. The chicken sets the tone for the book in the Prelude and carries it through to its conclusion. She thrashes around, bats her wings, turns, twists and squawks, but:

“no matter how much she

tries to deflect

the inevitable—

nothing can erase the name

etched in the bullet’s face.

Power bird,

forced to surrender,

is the first to cry”.

MARTIN RISING: Requiem for a King written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney with timelines and photographs in the back material is a book not to be missed (Scholastic Press, 2018).

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.