cover image When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders

J. Patrick Lewis, illus. by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, et al. Chronicle, $16.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-4521-0119-4

Poet Laureate Lewis casts a wide net in these stirring poems about civil rights, which highlight figures as multifarious as Gandhi and Harvey Milk, and are illustrated by five artists. The graceful and distinctive paintings offer visual homages to each subject. Milk speaks punctiliously (“They say I came before my time/ but who else would redress/ unmitigated suffering due/ to such small-mindedness?”), while Mitsuye Endo, a Japanese-American woman interned during WWII, speaks with humble defiance: “I was a typist, nothing more./ I loved my life, I hated war.” Children’s books on the subject of civil rights can sometimes result in a generic roundup of instrumental leaders; Lewis’s surprising and welcome integration of lesser-known individuals provides a holistic and enlightening look at an always pertinent topic. Ages 3–6. (Feb.)