Preaching to the Chickens : The Story of Young John Lewis
by Asim, Jabari; Lewis, E. B. (ILT)

"Critically acclaimed author Jabari Asim and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis give readers a fascinating glimpse into the childhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis. John wants to be a preacher when he grows up-a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm's flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content underhis watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice. Celebrating ingenuity and dreaming big, this inspirational story, featuring Jabari Asim's stirring prose and E. B. Lewis's stunning, light-filled impressionistic watercolor paintings, includes an author's note about John Lewis, who grew up to be a member of the Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and demonstrator on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and is now a Georgia congressman"-

Jabari Asim ( is the author of several adult and children’s books, including Fifty Cents and a Dream—an NAACP Image Award Nominee, CCBC Choice, School Library Journal Editor’s Choice, and Kirkus Best Book. He is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston and executive editor of The Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP. He recently was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
E. B. Lewis ( is the acclaimed illustrator of more than seventy books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book Coming On Home Soon and the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Each Kindness (both by Jacqueline Woodson). He teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He lives in Folsom, New Jersey.

Before he became a congressman of Georgia, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Freedom Rider, and civil rights activist, John Lewis was a farm boy who loved spring and his flock of chickens. This picture-book biography recalls those early days when young John, inspired by the faith and camaraderie he felt at church, practiced instilling messages of gratitude, peace, and cooperation among his private congregation of chickens. Although the concept may appear comical at first glance, this book is wonderfully sincere. Asim and Lewis' words and images convey their respect and admiration for John Lewis, and readers will feel the same way. A tender narrative, paired with watercolors filled with light and movement, captures the heat of a Georgia day and the unmistakable bond John formed with his feathery followers. Young readers will appreciate the gentle messages about the importance of hard work, persistence, and patience that lay the foundations for John Lewis' activism as an adult, which is detailed in a final author's note. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

A glimpse into the childhood whimsy of an important African-American congressman who has become famous for his words.Long before John Lewis spoke to thousands during the civil rights movement, he honed his elocution skills by preaching to his 60 farmyard chickens. Knowing each one by name and habits, John protected his chickens from those who wanted to trade for them, rescued them when they fell into the well, and even once brought a nearly drowned chick back to life. Bringing a message of peace when the chickens bickered over food, John earned the nickname "Preacher" from his siblings. Illustrator Lewis' signature watercolors paint a lively picture of John Lewis' life growing up on a farm with a close and hardworking Christian family. The liveliness of the chickens as well as John's concern and care for them shine in the light-dappled images. Given the seriousness of what Lewis faced on the march from Selma to Montgomery and the gravity of the issues he has dealt with throughout his career, this joy-inducing back story reveals an entertaining facet to the congressman's life that young readers will appreciate. After absorbing this must-read bit of personal history about John Lewis, young readers will never see this serious-faced congressman in quite the same way.(Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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