Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

Roaring Brook. Sept. 2022. 64p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250220950.
Gr 2-6–The heartbreaking story of Emmett Till is shared with great emotional depth. Using cut-paper collage and lyrical storytelling, Joy and Washington revive Mamie Till-Mobley’s story. The brilliant, loving mother of Emmett was a child of the Great Migration. Mamie and her family moved up from Mississippi to Argo, a Chicago suburb, where the studious girl worked hard to graduate at the top of her class. She married Louis Till, and after a strenuous birth, their only son arrived. Though doctors predicted he would have severe cognitive and motor delays, Mamie insisted on bringing Emmett home. Louis turned violent, and Mamie refused to tolerate the behavior. Now with just his mother and grandmother, Emmett grew into a kind boy who played joyfully in the streets of Argo until he fell ill with polio. The disease left him with a stutter, which his ingenious mother helped him circumvent using a clever trick of stopping when he was stuck on a word and whistling to calm him before he continued speaking. Unfortunately, like Mamie before them, readers are powerless to stop Emmett’s fateful trip to Mississippi. They cannot stop Emmett’s alleged whistle, the white woman’s lie, the white kidnappers’ murder, or the jury’s unjust verdict. The symbolic red and blue colors in the collage, weaving Mamie and Emmett’s lives and stories together, creates a beautiful artistic tapestry. With rich language and a wealth of knowledge in the back matter, this text has depth and usefulness for a broad audience.
VERDICT An essential purchase for all libraries.

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