cover image Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama

Hester Bass, illus. by E. B. Lewis. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6919-5

A small girl sits on a chair in a store, solemnly holding a piece of paper with the outlines of her feet drawn on it. This is how African Americans shopped for shoes in Huntsville, Ala., prior to the civil rights movement, because their feet weren’t allowed inside shoes that might be touched by whites. It’s one of many indelible vignettes in this engrossing and heart-wrenching history from the duo behind The Secret World of Walter Anderson, which culminates in Huntsville’s schools being the first to integrate in the state. Bass’s forthright, passionate prose and Lewis’s searing, expansively imagined watercolors take readers to a time and place when the New Frontier’s rockets (Huntsville was a NASA field center) heralded American exceptionalism and pride, while bigotry and discrimination were justified as “just the way it is.” As Bass and Lewis show, once the “seeds of freedom” took root, there was no turning back; when ordinary people were willing to speak truth to power and risk everything for justice, they changed the world. Unflinchingly honest and jubilantly hopeful, this is nonfiction storytelling at its best. Ages 5–8. Author's agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.)