Library heroes

February 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Finding Lincoln, written by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Colin Bootman; published by Albert Whitman & Company, Morton Grove, Illinois; 2009.

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes.  In 1951 Alabama, segregation included the public libraries.  Louis, an inquisitive student, desperately needs a book about President Lincoln as a boy.  No resources are available to him: his teacher and the satellite library at his church did not have what he needed for his report.  The young man, trembling inside, steps into the white-only library.  Two librarians were working; one angrily pointed to the segregation sign; one led him to the door, and whispered, “Come back tomorrow after 5:00.”  That night, the librarian’s hand trembled as she made a temporary library card for the young man.  Louis and the librarian took a shaky first step on the path to equality.

Malaspina’s story is compelling, truthful and moving.  She has a style that draws the students in without condescending or reaching over their heads.  Bootman’s illustrations tell more of the story.  The action spills off the pages in realistic snippets of the story.  Faces express every emotion Malaspina weaves with words.  Together, words and pictures build a setting that seems so, so real.

Students in upper elementary and even middle school should be using this book in social studies classes; perhaps it could be part of cross-curricular activities when students learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. or the Civil Rights Movement.  Maybe it could be paired with The Watsons Go to Birmingham (by Christopher Paul Curtis) for sixth graders.  In fact, there is even biographical information about Abraham Lincoln!  This book would be appropriate to display in February: covering both Presidents’ Day and Black History Month.  How many other books could do that?!

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Entry filed under: Historical Fiction, Multicultural Picture Book, Picture Book. Tags: , , , , , .

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Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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