Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

illus. by R. Gregory Christie. 40p. bibliog. chron. notes. Calkins Creek. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629797182.
Gr 2–5—Duncan tells the story of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. through the voice of Lorraine Jackson, an invented character who looks back on her childhood as the nine-year-old daughter of a sanitation worker. The book opens with a poem, beginning simply, "I remember Memphis," and continues mostly in prose, with several pages of poetry in different formats interspersed. The haiku "Omen" is striking amid the longer pages: "Yellow Daffodils. Sixteen inches under snow. King canceled his march." The language throughout is powerful. Christie's Acryla gouache paintings are breathtaking, from the wide white brush strokes in the snowy background of the aforementioned haiku, to the impeccable rendering of Coretta Scott King marching in a widow's veil four days after her husband's assassination. Lorraine is depicted earnestly with braids in bows, and bobby socks. Warm yellows and oranges and cool blues alternate as backgrounds to most full-bleed pages. The text is fully researched, with cited sources, and draws many details from interviews with a Memphis teacher who experienced this moment in history as a child.
VERDICT A superbly written and illustrated work. A first purchase for public and school libraries.

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