Show Way is family, American history

September 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Hudson Talbott; published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, New York; 2005.

Jacqueline Woodson has created a book that chronicles a bit of American history along with some impressive family history.  The story of generations of women handing down their ability to share knowledge with others first through their needlework (creating “show ways” or maps to freedom on quilts) then in their ability to tell stories is written as though an oral history was captured on paper.  There’s a bit of a history lesson, about slavery and the pursuit of freedom, in Woodson’s words.  But even more importantly, there is a story of strength and love being passed from generation to generation; a story every mother wants to share with her children.  Remarkably, Hudson Talbott’s multi media illustrations further the story in breathtaking detail.  Look especially for the image of the sisters looking overwhelmed in front of a wall of hateful history.  Using watercolors, chalk, muslin and other fabrics adds dimension to the images, like piecing together the pieces of a patchwork quilt.  Put all together, Show Way sends a powerful message of love, hope and endurance.

All I thought about while reading Show Way was, “Why isn’t this book included in book lists for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?”  When I worked in an elementary school library, I struggled to find powerful books about King and his message;   a way to use words and pictures to reach the minds and hearts of even the youngest students.  This book does all that.  I will recommend it to others for read-alouds in Black History Month or on MLK Day; I will refer it to parents wondering how to share family history with their own children.  Woodson has shown the way to do that!


Entry filed under: Multicultural Picture Book, Newbery Award or Honor Book, Picture Book, Starred Review Book (Horn Book, Booklist. School Library Journal, Kirkus or PW). Tags: , , , , , .

Robot Zot: What’s he got? Scieszka & Shannon! Words and pictures tell story of The Dreamer

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