We’ve Got a Job: Book Review

February 25th, 2012 by

weve-got-a-job-cynthia-levinson-book-reviewLast month, I posted about the civil rights movement in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I mentioned sit-ins to protest segregated restaurants, and I shared trailers for books about church bombings and school integration. But there’s one thing I didn’t talk about at all: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, when 4,000 black elementary, middle, and high school students chose to be jailed as part of the fight for civil rights.

Pretty incredible, right? But even more incredible in my opinion — I don’t remember ever hearing about this before! Now that I know about it, I feel like this amazing story should be shared with everyone… so thank goodness for We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson! The book traces the build-up to the march, the crazy events during the days of student protest, the kids’ experience in overcrowded jails, and the aftermath of the movement through the eyes of four students who took part in it all.

If you’ve got an assignment for Black History Month, this is the perfect book for you. It’s full of photos, direct quotes from people who were there, and alternating viewpoints to show everything that was going on at the time. But also, it’s really truly fascinating! Here’s a taste, from the very beginning of the book:

On Thursday morning, May 2, 1963, nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks woke up with freedom on her mind. But, before she could be free, there was something important she had to do.

“I want to go to jail,” Audrey had told her mother.

Since Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks thought that was a good idea, they helped her get ready. Her father had even bought her a new game she’d been eyeing. Audrey imagined that it would entertain her if she got bored during her week on a cell block.

That morning, her mother took her to Center Street Elementary so she could tell her third-grade teacher why she’d be absent. Mrs. Wills cried. Audrey knew she was proud of her.

She also hugged all four grandparents goodbye.

One of her grandmothers assured her, “You’ll be fine.”

Then Audrey’s parents drove her to church to get arrested.

What the wha?! Can you even imagine getting ready to do something like that? It makes for a totally gripping read — kind of a cross between a textbook and a suspense novel!

Of course, if you want an actual novel to read after We’ve Got a Job, then don’t forget Nancy’s recommendation for Black History Month: Gabriel’s Horses by Alison Hart. Or if you have your own favorite book on the topic, leave a comment and tell us about it!

— Karen

Karen used to avoid nonfiction, until she realized how awesome it can be! Her favorite kind of nonfiction is crazy factoid books.

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Review copy of Gabriel’s Horses provided by the publisher.

Book Videos for MLK Day

January 17th, 2012 by

martin-luther-king-jrYesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it was definitely lovely to have a vacation from work. It seems like there’s a pattern to how I spend the holiday: in this post I wrote on MLK Day 2010 I mentioned eating lots of desserts, and this year I made two desserts! (Pecan bars and chocolate + nut + marshmallow clusters, in case you were wondering.)

But obviously, MLK Day is not just an excuse to take a break and stuff your face with sugar. So I also spent some time thinking about the man we honor and looking at photos taken during the civil rights movement.

When you look at those pictures, it’s truly amazing to think that they were taken in the 1950s and 60s. That wasn’t so long ago, and yet our country was SO backwards! Check out this picture of students getting food dumped on them as they staged a sit-in to protest segregated eating areas, or this photo of a “colored-only” water fountain.

It can be hard to look at these kinds of images, but it’s really important to remember what MLK fought for. And if you want to know more, there are plenty of books about that time in our not-so-distant history. Here are book trailers from around the interwebs for just a few of them:

The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
[This is an awesome video, but… WARNING: spoiler alert!]

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Have you read any of these books, or any others about the civil rights movement? Leave a comment and let me know!

— Karen

This MLK Day, Karen discovered a new quote from King that she absolutely loves: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

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Remembering MLK Jr.

January 18th, 2010 by

Marching to Freedom by Joyce Milton

Marching to Freedom by Joyce Milton

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and you know what that means — a day off! 😀 [insert shower of confetti here]

Personally, I’m very happy not to be in the office today. And I’m sure you’re not overly disappointed about a break from school either. I don’t know about you, but I plan to take full advantage of the holiday — which in my case means a huge array of desserts and a marathon of the TV show Chuck.

But before rotting my teeth with sugar and rotting my brain with TV, I decided to spend a little time honoring MLK, since it is his day and all. I have to admit that I don’t do that every year. But I figured, “Hey, maybe I should recommend a book about MLK on Kidsmomo or something…” So I picked up this one: Marching to Freedom: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Joyce Milton. And it’s AWESOME!

But I know reading a biography may not be exactly the way you want to spend your day off, so I’ve done you all a little favor and reproduced my favorite part of the book here, for your reading enjoyment. (You can thank me later.) It’s definitely not light reading, but it’s really interesting — and taught me something I never knew about MLK before! This is a description of a momentous bus ride that King took with his teacher when he was 14 years old:
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