Martin Rising by Andrea Davis Pinkney | SLJ Review

Gr 4 Up –A powerful celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., set against the last few months of his life and written in verse.

redstarPINKNEY, Andrea Davis. Martin Rising: Requiem for a King. illus. by Brian Pinkney. 128p. bibliog. chron. notes. photos. Scholastic. Jan. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780545702539.

Gr 4 Up –A powerful celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., set against the last few months of his life and written in verse. Divided into three sections, (“Daylight,” “Darkness,” and “Dawn”), Andrea Davis Pinkney’s poems focus on the winter and spring of 1968, from King’s birthday on January 15 through the horror of his assassination on April 4 and end with a tribute to his legacy of hope on Easter Sunday, April 14. The poems begin broadly, painting a portrait of spring emerging in Memphis as garbage collectors fight against discriminatory wage policies, ultimately bringing King to that city to organize and uplift the movement. But as the last moments of King’s life tick away, the narrative zooms in, detailing the emotional beats of his final public speeches, the feverish exhaustion of long days and nights away from home, and the relief of stolen moments of leisure with his closest friends. Throughout, the crowds filling churches seeking inspiration and bravely marching in the face of violence are as much a part of the story as King himself. Brian Pinkney’s watercolor, gouache, and India ink illustrations convey warm moments of victory and joy, as well as the darkness and chaos of loss, through swirls of color. Impressionistic brush-stroke portraits of King alternate with spreads full of faces listening, marching, and mourning. Back matter includes author and artist reflections, a time line, and additional historical information with photographs. VERDICT Beautifully illustrated and begging to be read aloud, this poetry collection is an exceptional classroom tool for civil rights lessons and offers much for individual readers to linger over.–Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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