Nelson's (We Are the Ship) jacket portrait of Coretta Scott, monumental and tender at the same time, sets the tone for this intimate picture biography. The artist's full-bleed paintings, powerfully molded and saturated with color, depict crucial moments in Scott's life: the morning when a "white school bus/ left a/ funnel of dust" in Coretta's face as she walked five miles to school; her marriage to Martin Luther King Jr., "two minds attracted in prayer," their faces joined in double profile; the March on Washington, a mass of humanity around the Washington Monument, viewed from the air. Shange's (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf) rhythmic lines and formal syntax roll like waves--"over years/ learning and freedom/ took hold of Coretta's soul/ till she knew in her being/ that the Good Lord intended freedom/ for the Negro"--carrying readers on a soul-stirring ride through Coretta's coming of age in the Civil Rights movement and her time as King's partner in it. "Singin' always singin'," Shange ends; Nelson shows the couple at the head of a line of marchers, and then, on the final page, in tight close-up, their faces patient and strong. Ages 4-9. (Jan.)[Page 53]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-9--Poetic language paired with powerful images makes this biography/history of the Civil Rights Movement a moving, provocative read-aloud. Young Coretta and her siblings solemnly "walked all/of five miles to/the nearest colored school/in the darkness/with the dew dampening/their feet." A close-up of the stoic children as the "white school bus/left a/funnel of dust/on their faces" reveals the hurt they already knew. The peaceful, prayerful profiles of Coretta and Martin juxtaposed against a stained-glass church window provide a soothing contrast--"they prayed together/found joy/and were married." Later came the sit-ins and the marches; "hundreds then thousands/white and black/marched/in Alabama/Carolina/Georgia/and Chicago." Until "a quarter of a million at the March on Washington/peacefully singing 'we shall overcome'/and listening to the words/that would inspire a nation." A bird's-eye view of the crowd looks like a garden of flowers surrounding the Reflecting Pool. Yet, despite the song and solidarity, "things nature never intended/a child to see/haunted them…." The book ends with several spreads of marchers and singers accompanied by an excerpt from the traditional gospel song "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round." Nelson's stirring oil paintings on plywood are all full-spread with large, easy-to-share images. An author's note provides a summary of the subject's life and of the Civil Rights Movement, though there are no credits or references to the songs. Every library will want copies of this lyrical tribute to an elegant woman and the era she represents.--Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools[Page 129]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.