Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Authors: Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Illustrator: David Wenzel
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
“What do you think the world would be like if Martin Luther King Jr. had quit and never led the successful voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21, 1965?” Mr. Caruthers asked his third grade class in King’s Courage (Blast To The Past), a children’s book written by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon.
With one hundred and eight pages, this paperback book is targeted toward ages seven to ten years old, has no profanity and no questionable or scary scenes. Illustrator David Wenzel portrays four children walking with Martin Luther King Jr. on front cover. The back cover has two paragraphs about the book and a head shot drawing of King and mentions the three prior books in the series. Inside there are ten black and white drawings along with a black and white photograph of the actual march and the musical score for “We Shall Overcome.” Also included at the end of the book is an explanation by the authors of fact verses fiction about the march that changed America along with the first page on the fifth book in the series.
The main object of this series is to ask young children what if a person in the past did not create, state, make or invent something that changed our lives today but quit instead. This book hones in on Martin Luther King Jr.’s attempts and success marching in Alabama for equal rights to all people in 1965.
When third grader Abigail and her three friends in history club have to watch two year old Gabe, the twins’ younger brother, during club meeting, she decides to stay and babysit while the others use Mr. Caruthers’s time machine to convince Martin Luther King Jr. to not quit the big march to freedom. But little Gabe gets a hold of the machine and all end up going back to the Brown Chapel AME Church to talk to MLK. Besides Gabe breaking the time machine and wandering off repeatedly, the children learn about the two prior attempts to march: one that included six hundred marchers where sixty-five were injured crossing Edmond Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” and one when fifteen hundred people prayed before the bridge crossing, only to retreat on “Turnaround Tuesday.” Taking King back to their current day school on Election Day where he can see African-American Mr. Caruthers vote, the kids also take him to Washington D.C. when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. All children including Gabe go back again to March 21, 1965 and witness King crossing the bridge with three thousand marchers who take the five day, fifty-four mile walk to the capitol’s steps with over twenty-five thousand blacks, whites, Christians, Jews and other religious people joining in the monumental movement.
This book is an excellent reminder to Americans of any age that we truly are created equal as it explains topics such as being abolished, civil rights, literary tests and those involved in changing our voting rights. The reader not only learns about MLK, Reverend Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson, but also that King was a smoker who had stomach and head aches and did not sleep well. Even though the book was written in 2006 so it does not include our current President Barack Obama, the authors do a great job explaining segregation and equal rights for all.
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