Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King
By: Jean Marzollo, Illustrated By: J. Brian Pinkey
January 1993
Scholastic Inc.
Age Range: 4-8 years.
Approx. 20 pages

The book starts out with Martin's birth on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. The subsequent events in the book take place in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., up to Martin's death in 1968. The main character in this book is Martin Luther King Jr.; his parents are mentioned briefly in the beginning of the book. Martin is described as a good student, compassionate and peaceful. He is also shown as determined and passionate, always "fighting" for what he believes in, no matter what the cost.
Martin seems to have a very good childhood, with parents who love him and a strong faith and belief in God. Martin grows to admire his father's position as a Reverend in his family's church and after he attends school in Atlanta, he attends divinity school in Pennsylvania and later becomes a Reverend along with his father. Martin led people in prayer and song and he worked steadily to change the laws that were holding back the black people of the United States. "Many helped him work, march, sing and pray for justice." In 1963, Martin gave his most famous speech, the "I have a dream speech". The book then explains how in 1968, Martin was shot and killed and that he was given a special funeral in Atlanta and how his gravestone reads, "Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!"
There's not really anything particularly unique about the way the author protrays the story, but I was impressed at how the author was still able to get Martin's message across in such a simple, clear-cut manner, easy enough for young children to understand.
Several different themes appear throughout the book, but the most prominent ones are compassion, determination and unity. Every single one of these themes can be applied in our lives today and reading this short children's book will help the reader become more connected and aware of the legacy that Martin left behind, of his legacy that continues to live on in the hearts of the people of the United States.
The only potential problem I see this book causing is young children being exposed to or more curious about death/murder when at the end it talks about Dr. King being, "Shot and killed." Other than that, I don't see any problems with violence or anything else of that nature.
I think everyone, of all ages would benefit from reading this book. It tells about a very important and memorable time in our nation's history in a simple, pure, clear-cut manner that is easy for everyone to understand.
My reaction was much of the same things that I mentioned earlier in the summary. I am continutally touched each time I read this book as I read about Martin's "I have a dream" speech and knowing that I've walked where he gave it.

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