Saturday, January 9, 2016

Review: I am Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a terrific kids book by a best-selling author.

Summary: We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer.

Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America.

This lively, New York Times Bestselling biography series inspires kids to dream big, one great role model at a time. You’ll want to collect each book. -- Dial

I already have a pretty high opinion of bestselling author Brad Meltzer. I love his thrillers and his nonfiction gift books HEROES FOR MY SON and HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER are extremely special (and important) books. Now, he's started a collection of picture books for the younger set called Ordinary People Change the World, and I've only read two of them but I think Mr. Meltzer is becoming one of my favorite children's authors too!

His latest picture book that was released just this week is titled I AM MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR, and the timing is absolutely perfect because Martin Luther King, Jr. day is just nine days away. This book is truly something special! It doesn't hurt when you have a hero and great American as your subject matter, but the presentation makes this book even better.

The book is written in MLK's first person voice with cute speech bubbles, and I think it makes the story all that more interesting for kids. In addition, the story includes what you'd expect -- the important speeches and marches, but it also includes some interesting tidbits from his childhood. Mr. Meltzer does a wonderful job of showing children that these larger-than-life individuals were just normal kids like them. He provides hope that everyone has the power to be an amazing adult and make a difference in the world.

All of this might sound a little over-the-top, a little much for a small picture book; however, I dare you to check out this series and not agree. Mr. Meltzer has done an amazing job of showing how the little things you experience in the normal course of your childhood build character. Let me give you an example:

In I AM MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Mr. Meltzer explains that MLK was accident prone. There is a cute illustration showing him bumping down the steps which will garner a laugh or two along with the speech bubbles like "Whoa! Amazing Fall!" and an "I'm Okay!" However, the page ends with this:

No matter how many times I fell, I kept getting back up.

I was also extremely impressed with how the book handled the issue of race and prejudice. Keep in mind this book is aimed at kids ages five to eight. It's an important topic, for sure, but not one that most of us are very comfortable in explaining to young children. Not only does this book show the great man that MLK was, it also does a wonderful job of showing the problems in our country and the progress it has made through the years (of course, much of this is due to that same great man!) It also teaches children and reminds adults of MLK's beliefs and his hope for reaching that dream.

I AM MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. is illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. His drawings are fantastic. They have a comic book quality to them, but I'm sure the speech bubbles add to that look. What really is so darn cute about this book, though, is that MLK is drawn as a child in size even when he's an adult. And get this... he has a mustache from the very start!

I can't rave enough about I AM MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. It's a fantastic picture book that is both cute and educational. Most importantly, the messages in this story are wonderful... for kids and adults!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I love that he put a human face on a hero like that. This sounds perfect for this month!

Stacie said...

Sounds like this will be a great series for kids and perfect for the classroom!