Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fall Reading 2018 Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968


I've been hearing about this book and couldn't wait to read it myself. The excitement was well-founded, because this is an age-appropriate description of the events in Memphis leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. Duncan uses a mix of prose and poetry and the point of view of a young girl whose father is one of the striking sanitation workers to take readers through that time. Lorraine's descriptions of the piles of trash, rolling pennies to pay the rent, and listening to the words of Dr. King make each scene come to life.

As if the brilliant word choices were not enough, R. Gregory Christie's illustrations show Lorraine in her patent leather shoes and hair-bows, the packed pews of the church as the men listen to union leaders, and the National Guard tanks patrolling the streets. The most heartbreaking scene is Coretta Scott King in her funeral clothes. Duncan writes, "Behind a veil of mourning, she buried her love in Georgia."

Additional features include a timeline of the sanitation strike, information about the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, a list of sources, and source notes. This is a must-have for lessons on the Civil Rights Movement, and especially the Memphis Sanitation Strike and the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. The balance of prose and poetry and the atmospheric layering of the illustrations make it adaptable to early elementary grades and up.

I read a review copy provided by the publisher.

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