COREY, Shana. A Time To Act: John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech. illus. by R. Gregory Christie. 48p. bibliog. further reading. notes. photos. NorthSouth. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780735842755.
Gr 3-5 –On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave an eloquent speech in which he made a plea for civil rights for African Americans. He was lauded for his blunt but sincere appeal to ensure equality for all Americans. Corey begins with biographical information on Kennedy, including his wealthy upbringing in an influential family, his illnesses as a child, his run for Congress, and his eventual election to the presidency. The text then segues into the struggle of African Americans to achieve civil rights, detailing the arduous work of sit-ins, marches, and Freedom Rides. Finally, the story returns to Kennedy’s 1963 speech to Congress. Though mostly adulatory in tone, the book points out that Kennedy was, for political reasons, hesitant to take action, thus providing a contrast between the man who wrote Profiles in Courage and the politician in the White House. Christie’s impressionistic illustrations are poignant and enhance the straightforward narrative. Back matter includes a section that identifies notable figures featured in the artwork and offers additional background on them. VERDICT Though there are numerous biographies on Kennedy for this audience, few focus solely on his role in civil rights, making this work a dynamic addition for U.S. history collections.
This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.