cover image Preaching to the Chickens

Preaching to the Chickens

Jabari Asim, illus. by E.B. Lewis. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-16856-7

Asim (Fifty Cents and a Dream) draws on an anecdote from congressman John Lewis’s 1998 memoir, Walking with the Wind, as he recounts the story of the future civil rights activist tending to a flock of chickens, both physically and—in a way—spiritually. On the Alabama farm of his childhood, Lewis was in charge of the chickens; inspired by church ministers, Lewis would preach to the birds, which “swayed to the rhythm of his voice.” E.B. Lewis (The First Step) stages the scenes under the bright springtime light of Alabama mornings, giving a full sense of John Lewis’s world, from the dusty henhouse to the sturdy wooden pews of his family’s church, while always emphasizing the tender care he devoted to the chickens. It’s a moving portrait of the power of small actions and “learn[ing] to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.” Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary. (Oct.)