Child of the Civil Rights Movement
by Shelton, Paula Young; Colon, Raul (ILT)

A daughter of civil rights activist Andrew Young describes her experiences of growing up in the Deep South at the height of the movement, sharing her witness to the efforts of her father, family friend Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of others who participated in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Paula Young Shelton is the daughter of civil rights leader and former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young. She is a teacher in Washington, D.C., and a member of the National Black Child Development Institute. Her husband, Hilary O. Shelton, is the director of the NAACP Washington Bureau.

Raul Colón is the acclaimed illustrator of numerous children’s books.

*Starred Review* The daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young remembers her family's active role in the civil rights movement, beginning when she was four years old. In rhythmic free verse she tells how she and her family move from New York to Atlanta, Georgia, to join the struggle ("back to Jim Crow, / where whites could / but blacks could not"), and how Dr. King and other leaders become a warm personal presence in her home, "close because we all struggled together." When her family is refused entry to a restaurant, she sits down and cries loudly, "my very first protest, my own little sit-in." Colón's dramatic, full-page pencil-and-wash illustrations in his signature style include portraits of famous figures as well as Paula and her sisters, hiding under tables and listening to adults in heated debate. Finally, in the story's climax, Paula and her family are part of the triumphant march from Selma to Montgomery. Many adults will want to talk about their memories of the time, and kids will appreciate the child's intimate viewpoint of world-changing history. Appended biographical notes offer more information about the leaders introduced in the text as well as a brief bibliography. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Civil rights can be a difficult topic, even for adults, so finding simple language to explain the complexity of injustice and oppression to children is challenging. Shelton, daughter of Andrew Young, accepts the challenge and rises to meet it, approaching the topic from the point of view of the child she was in the '60s: a four-year-old girl living in the midst of the leaders who helped change the nation. While the linked free-verse poems appropriately omit potentially confusing information, they introduce readers to her parents' friends-activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Cotton and Ralph Abernathy. The author's language can pack a punch, as when she describes her parents' moving the family from New York "back to Georgia, / back to Jim Crow, / where whites could / but blacks could not." Colón's illustrations are exceptional in their use of color and texture to convey emotions and situations. Thumbnail biographies of the leaders introduced demonstrate that their activism did not end after the Voting Rights Act, which concludes this account. Essential. (bibliography) (Picture book/memoir. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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