cover image A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation

Barry Wittenstein, illus. by Jerry Pinkney. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4331-4

This deep dive by Wittenstein (Sonny’s Bridge) into the speech that galvanized the 1963 March on Washington stars not only Martin Luther King Jr. but also the colleagues whose support was crucial to him. Caldecott Medalist Pinkney captures King in a huddle with nine black pastors and organizers the night before the speech, their figures bursting with energy and life. “You have to preach,” Reverend Ralph Abernathy says; Wyatt Tee Walker suggests skipping “I have a dream”; “You have used it too many times already.” King works late into the night with pastor Andrew Young by his side; the next day, he’s still revising. A moving long view shows throngs of demonstrators—250,000 of them—converging on the Lincoln Memorial. The speech is good, but “Martin wanted more” until a shout from singer Mahalia Jackson (“Tell them about the dream, Martin!”) inspires “the passion of a Sunday morning sermon.” Wittenstein’s riveting story shows that historical moments—and movements—are not inevitable; they’re shaped and changed by many hands and voices. In emphatic phrases and art alternatingly warm and tense, the creators’ moving portrait of the civil rights leader in consultation with others is an invaluable addition to the shelf of King biographies. A wealth of resources includes notes from the makers, short biographies of King’s colleagues, a bibliography, and more. Ages 7–10. Illustrator’s agent: Sheldon Fogelman, the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Sept.)