This Is the Dream
by Shore, Diane Z.; Alexander, Jessica; Ransome, James (ILT)

A powerful tribute with rousing, inspiring text and gorgeous illustrations commemorates the American experience before, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement.

Gr. 2-4. In this unusual book, Ransome makes a strong visual statement about equality in the U.S. The first half of the book shows large, dramatic scenes of segregated America: the separate, unequal water fountains, the library with a "Colored Entrance" leading to a collection of tattered books. Then come pictures depicting the years of protest, with black children guarded by soldiers as they enter their new school and adults physically harassed but unmoved during a lunch-counter sit-in. Finally, the justice and happiness of an inclusive America is depicted as people eat, read, and share together. The images extend to the book's endpapers: collage pictures of the American flag before and after Jim Crow. At the book's beginning, the stars appear on bits of cloth so thin that you can see through them, while the stripes are made up of alternating rows of small images of black America and white America. At the book's conclusion, a sturdy, starred blue cloth connects with bright, patchwork panels of patterned cloth, and the whole is supported on a map, a multicultural collage from which faces beam with happiness. The rhythmic verse tells the story of the civil rights struggle with simplicity and power, while the images bring the concepts home in a way that children will see and feel. An excellent resource for discussing the changes of the civil rights era as they benefit all Americans. ((Reviewed February 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

A soaring tribute to the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement in earnest, if sometimes clumsy, verse and mixed-media collage. After opening with a catalog of segregation, from water fountains and busses to schools and libraries, the writers point to the courageous souls who marched across those lines-"These are the passengers, on weary feet / walking until they can choose their own seat"-then close with visions of today's fountains, tables, busses and classrooms open to all. Ransome illustrates these visions, before and after, with painted figures (some recognizable, others generic) against tumultuous backgrounds and borders that incorporate clipped period photos; he then closes with an array of patriotic symbols. Despite a simplistic implication-countered only by a closing note in smaller type that younger readers may very well skip-that the movement's work is done, even children unfamiliar with the struggle's origins and landmark events will come away with profound appreciation for its nonviolent methods, and for its dream of "freedom and justice for all." (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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