Papa’s Mark

­Holiday House. Jan. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823453702.
Gr 1-5–It is election time in Lamar County as Simms and his father drive into town in their wagon for their weekly shopping trip. Simms notices that instead of signing his name, Papa simply writes an “x” at the bottom of the receipt. Simms desperately wants to help his father learn how to write so he can sign his name when he casts his vote for the first time. As Election Day draws near, Papa practices with the patient guidance of his thoughtful son. Will he learn how to write his name in time? Beautiful oil paintings with rich colors of browns, blues, yellows, and greens fill each page and capture Simms and his family’s determination. Bootman’s final illustrations show pride on the faces of men who are able to vote for the very first time as they enter the town courthouse together, “in unity.” This heartwarming story about a boy who is dedicated to helping his father has language simple enough for a primary student to understand as a read-aloud, but older elementary students will also benefit from reading this beautiful picture book independently. An author’s note provides a bit of historical background on the 13th Amendment, slavery, and the importance of the Voting Rights Act.
VERDICT A fine lesson in persistence for any classroom setting.

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