We Shall Overcome

Orchard. Nov. 2021. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338540376.
Gr 1-2–Civil rights history comes alive through these historically laden and visually arresting illustrations. The text of the beloved song that has been encouraging activists for over 100 years appears across page after page; gray-toned illustrations with the look of old photographs represent true events while the protagonist, a young Black girl, makes her way to school. Walking, taking a bus, joining up with a young group of interethnic friends to the school on a street with Black Lives Matter printed across it—all these demonstrate to onlookers that the journey is not over and the need to overcome racial injustice continues today. In the back matter are “Did you notice?” questions posed by Collier to engage the audience with the images captured throughout the book, almost creating a conversation between artist and reader. “Did you notice the church on pages 12 and 13?” is followed by details of the significance of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, and the statue of Dr. King that the protagonist walks past.
VERDICT Powerful scenes, outstanding for all that they capture and urgently convey, will challenge all readers to find their place in the march to a more racially just future.

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