cover image Let the Children March

Let the Children March

Monica Clark-Robinson, illus. by Frank Morrison. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-70452-7

Clark-Robinson’s stirring debut unfolds through the resolute voice of a (fictional) African-American girl participating in the 1963 Children’s Crusade, during which young residents of Birmingham, Ala., marched to protest segregation. “Dr. King told us the time had come to march,” the girl explains. Her parents can’t risk losing their jobs, so she, her brother, and thousands of their peers volunteer to serve as “Dr. King’s army” (“This burden, this time, did not have to be theirs to bear”). Morrison’s dynamic oil paintings viscerally expose the protesters’ courage and fear, as well as the anger of white onlookers and police who sic dogs on the marchers and blast them with hoses before locking many in jail. The children’s refrains (“Singing the songs of freedom, one thousand strong we came”) are displayed like banners across the pages, emphasizing collective strength in the face of brutal violence. The narrator’s conclusion, “Our march made the difference,” serves as a powerful reminder for today’s readers about their own ability to fight for justice and equality. Ages 6–9. [em]Author’s agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.) [/em]