"There have been a lot of books written about my father. But not a whole lot has been written about my dad," explains King, the second of four children of the civil rights leader. Personal anecdotes appear throughout this picture book biography, demonstrating how King's activism at times took a toll on his family. A trip to an amusement park is repeatedly deferred ("Finally my mother explained. We were not allowed in Funtown"), a young Martin is nervous about letting other kids know who his father is, and he's viscerally upset when his father is repeatedly arrested, consoling his older sister after being comforted by their mother. Readers get a sense of King's reputation and goals amid the family stories; in an especially powerful anecdote, King describes burning toy guns in a backyard bonfire. "Nonviolence wasn't just for marches and protests," he writes. "It was for home as well." Though occasionally somewhat posed, Ford's oil-and-acrylic paintings depict both the likenesses of the King family and the close-knit bond that saw them through many dark moments. Ages 4-8. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
K-Gr 2--King's remembrance of his father is an intimate introduction to the civil rights leader, revealing happy family moments as well as fear and personal pain amid the turbulence engulfing the nation in the 1960s. Kids will enjoy and perhaps identify with the playful interactions between "Marty" and his dad, who would put his son on top of the refrigerator and then catch him in his arms. Contrasting such warm memories are those of the King children hearing on the radio about their father's arrest and enduring bigotry at their new, integrated school. King's son is frank about the ugly clashes of the Civil Rights Movement, but he writes about them in an age-appropriate manner. The style is simple and conversational, as though the author were chatting with readers, reinforcing the personal spirit of the book. His effort to share some of the legendary leader's life as a private citizen makes his father approachable and real, a nice beginning to the relationship students will have with the influential man in their American history classes. It also provides an important firsthand account of the agony and frustration of prejudice experienced by many African American families. Ford's artwork is laudable, but in some illustrations, the heads of Dr. King and his wife are disproportionately large and oddly rendered. Overall, though, the forthrightness of Ford's palette and technique complement the text.--Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR[Page 122]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.