Reviews for I Have a Dream : Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
A great way to introduce young readers to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic 1963 address, this large, square picture book presents the speech with long excerpts and full-page, glowing unframed oil portraits of King, as well as paintings of the thousands who came to hear him at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. Then there are images that expand on his stirring message, including a painting of a black teen and a white teen face-to-face, equal and connected, which accompanies the words "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood"; a large close-up of a black hand and a white hand clasped together; a view of children of many races singing "let freedom ring"; and spreads showing mountain landscapes across the country. The full text of the speech is appended, and there is also a CD of King's address for those, including teens and adults, who want to revisit that momentous event, and not just on the third Monday in January. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A new book from Nelson is always a publishing event, and his many fans, young and old, will be waiting for this. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2013 February
Overcoming the odds in stories of inspiration

Just when I think there are no more stories to be written about African Americans in history, I am blown away by new and inspiring books. Each of these beautiful picture books tells a story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

THE LIGHT OF LITERACY

Most folks know that it was against the law for slaves to learn to read, but it’s clear that some were able to learn despite the prohibition. How did they do it? In Light in the Darkness, author Lesa Cline-Ransome and her husband, illustrator James E. Ransome, tell the story of pit schools—large holes dug deep in the ground where slaves would meet and learn from a literate slave, usually at night. The book’s dark blue palette is perfect for showing the fear of the slaves, hidden in the hole while patrollers are about. One especially chilling spread shows a slave being whipped—one lash for every letter she had learned. It’s impossible not to be inspired by the book’s portrayal of enslaved people and their dedication to learning.

A DRAMATIC RESCUE

Another husband-and-wife team, Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, bring us a tale of stubbornness and bravery in The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery. Stirringly told by the authors and beautifully illustrated by Eric Velasquez, this is the story of John Price, an escaped slave sheltered by Quakers in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1858. The Fugitive Slave Act allowed slave catchers from the South to legally capture slaves and return them to their owners. When John was recaptured and imprisoned by slave catchers in a hotel in nearby Wellington while they waited for a train south, news of the capture spread. Hundreds of Oberlinians—students, teachers, shopkeepers and more—raced to rescue Price. And they did! Thirty-seven members of the town were eventually accused of violating the Fugitive Slave Act and jailed for three months. A moving archival photo of the rescuers adds much to the story. More people will now know of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, thanks to this dramatic book.

DREAMS FULFILLED

In Fifty Cents and a Dream, Jabari Asim and illustrator Bryan Collier depict the early life of educator and writer Booker T. Washington. Collier’s collage and watercolor illustrations are perfect for detailing the struggles the young man overcame to attend Hampton Institute and eventually to lead the new Tuskegee Institute.  One particularly moving painting shows Washington kneeling in prayer while the trees are filled with images of slaves, symbols of his older neighbors who told him their stories. “Booker listened, and carried their dreams with him.” The backmatter—timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes and bibliography—add depth to this emotional tale.

SEEING RED

Perhaps my favorite new book of the season is A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. Jen Bryant and illustrator Melissa Sweet, who partnered on A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, team up again with the tender tale of artist Horace Pippin. His story is one of dedication, loss and determination to create art. Using his own words as part of the design, Sweet’s gouache, collage and watercolor paintings tell of the boy who answered the call of his friends and neighbors, “Make a picture for us, Horace!” As Bryant recounts the triumphant day when Pippin won a magazine drawing contest, the reader can feel the excitement he must have felt when the prize of pencils, paints and brushes arrived. Now he could add his trademark splash of red. His life, which was filled with challenges, including a shoulder injury suffered in World War I, was not an easy one. Bryant and Sweet portray Pippin with honesty and heart, introducing this true American artist to a new generation. The back cover shows paints and brushes and includes a final quote from Pippin: “Pictures just come to my mind . . . and I tell my heart to go ahead.” Stunning.

HISTORY REVEALED

Kadir Nelson’s gifts as an artist are on full view in I Have a Dream. Words from the famous 1963 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are interspersed with Nelson’s soaring paintings of the March on Washington and portraits of Dr. King in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This is no simplistic rehashing of the familiar words. Each page turn brings a new, glorious image celebrating one of the most important speeches of the 20th century.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
In superlative oil paintings, Nelson brings to life this famous speech. He begins with Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial addressing the crowd; literal illustrations of his words (e.g., his "four little children") follow. Visually, this is a stunning accomplishment that embodies the thrilling inspiration of Dr. King's words. The complete text of the speech is appended; accompanying CD included.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #5
In superlative oil paintings, Nelson brings to life Dr. King's most famous speech, and the one children are most likely to know. Nelson has chosen to illustrate the section that specifically addresses the dream, beginning with the words "I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulty of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." The accompanying illustration depicts Dr. King standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, addressing the crowd at the March on Washington. The pages that follow show scenes from the event as well as more literal illustrations of Dr. King's words: black children and white children playing together, a black hand clasping a white hand, and his own "four little children." When we reach the climactic "Let freedom ring..." part of the speech, two gorgeous double-page spreads show interconnected panels of the "prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire" and the "snowcapped Rockies of Colorado," ultimately linked with "every hill and molehill of Mississippi," in a sweeping vista. At the end, we return to a larger-than-life close-up of Dr. King's impassioned face, the hopeful faces of the audience, and finally white doves flying against a blue sky, representing the words "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" The complete text of the speech is printed at the back of the book, and an accompanying CD is also included [unseen]. Visually, this is a stunning accomplishment that embodies the thrilling inspiration of Dr. King's words as he first spoke them. kathleen t. horning

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
An award-winning artist captures the passion and purpose of this most notable 20th-century American speech in beautifully realized oil paintings. Nelson begins with the concluding paragraphs spoken on August 28th, 1963, with the Lincoln Memorial standing vigil over the massed assemblage. Dr. King's opening paragraphs, with their urgent and specific references to America's broken promises, slavery, discrimination and injustice, along with an acknowledgement of a "marvelous new militancy" are not often quoted; they are specific to the time. The words of his "dream," in contrast, are universal, timeless and still needed. Dr. King evoked Scripture, an American hymn and an African-American spiritual in his sermon. Nelson mirrors that religiosity in his paneled montage of American mountains rising high from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi and California. His stately portraits of adults and children stand out against white and blue backgrounds as they march, listen and hold hands. A glorious double-spread likeness of Dr. King against a black background imparts both majesty and sorrow. And how perfect that white doves, symbols of hope and faith, soar at the conclusion. The entire speech is reproduced in print and on a CD (not heard). A title for remembrance and for re-dedication to the dream, published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. (Informational picture book. 5 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
An award-winning artist captures the passion and purpose of this most notable 20th-century American speech in beautifully realized oil paintings. Nelson begins with the concluding paragraphs spoken on August 28th, 1963, with the Lincoln Memorial standing vigil over the massed assemblage. Dr. King's opening paragraphs, with their urgent and specific references to America's broken promises, slavery, discrimination and injustice, along with an acknowledgement of a "marvelous new militancy" are not often quoted; they are specific to the time. The words of his "dream," in contrast, are universal, timeless and still needed. Dr. King evoked Scripture, an American hymn and an African-American spiritual in his sermon. Nelson mirrors that religiosity in his paneled montage of American mountains rising high from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi and California. His stately portraits of adults and children stand out against white and blue backgrounds as they march, listen and hold hands. A glorious double-spread likeness of Dr. King against a black background imparts both majesty and sorrow. And how perfect that white doves, symbols of hope and faith, soar at the conclusion. The entire speech is reproduced in print and on a CD (not heard). A title for remembrance and for re-dedication to the dream, published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. (Informational picture book. 5 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 January/February
Award-winning author/illustrator Kadir Nelson has created another stunningly beautiful book using the stirring and well-known section of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Beginning with the iconic image of Dr. King standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, then moving back to view the millions of people in the crowd, Nelson demonstrates the significance of the moment. Every page brings the speech to life with luminous portraits and images that reveal the rich meaning of each line. This book can be used at every grade level, it will help ignite discussions of civil rights and character, but also should be considered at middle and high schools for lessons on word choice or persuasive writing. The entire speech is included in the back of the book. If you have only one book on Dr. King's speech, this should be the one! Brook Berg, Library Media Specialist, Riverview Elementary, Farmington, Minnesota. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #4

There's something exhilarating about viewing Nelson's (Heart and Soul) paintings of Dr. King and the March on Washington while reading the words of the speech King gave that day; it's hard to imagine a better representation of their historical significance. Nelson pictures King in front of a forest of microphones, his brow furrowed with concentration. "I have a dream today," he repeats as Nelson shows him in sharp profile--it almost seems possible to feel the warmth of his breath. "With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together," he continues, accompanied by a painting of two clasped hands, black and white. Though it's a clichd image, Nelson's up-close rendering of the hands gives the picture startling freshness. American landscapes glow, and schoolchildren of every color look viewers in the eye, full of confidence. The speech is lightly edited in a way that makes it understandable for children of any age; a CD of the speech is enclosed. A glorious interpretation of a bedrock moment in 20th-century history. All ages. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

Gr 2 Up--This splendidly illustrated tribute comes in time to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. King's historic speech given on August 28, 1963. The full text is appended, though Nelson has chosen to illustrate just the latter portion, beginning with the words, "I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." The luminous oil paintings employ a variety of techniques-scenes at the Lincoln Memorial have a sweeping impressionistic quality while other spreads employ the artist's signature photorealistic style. From the wraparound jacket featuring a powerful image of Dr. King, Nelson makes good use of the large, square trim size and generous design appropriate to illustrate such a significant moment in the Civil Rights Movement. While putting his own interpretative spin on the iconic words, he remains sensitive to King's intent; for example, several paintings focus on King's hope that all people will someday live in harmony-a theme that runs through the oration. The layout matches the tempo of the words with dramatic spreads resounding with the refrain "I have a dream," and the "Let freedom ring" chorus scenes unfold as a creative series of geographic panels. Even after 50 years, this seminal address still has the power to move listeners, and this handsome illustrated version will be welcomed in all collections. Includes a CD of Dr. King's original speech.--Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

[Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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