Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream and You

by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author) James E Ransome (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall.

You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience.

Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King's life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford's poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King's example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.


Publishers Weekly

Weatherford (In Your Hands) and Ransome (The Nutcracker in Harlem) show readers how lessons from the life of Martin Luther King Jr., translated into simple maxims, remain relevant. Alternating between decisive moments in King's life and a contemporary classroom preparing to celebrate the holiday honoring him, Weatherford assures readers, "You can be a King." One spread shows King giving his historic speech at the Lincoln Memorial ("You can be a King. Have a dream. Make yours great enough to grow into"), followed by vignettes of a child in a wheelchair making cupcakes for the celebration. The concept isn't entirely successful: the classroom scenes, rendered in a cartoony sketchbook aesthetic against white backgrounds, feel forced and stagey. But the historical scenes, painted in Ransome's signature thick, saturated style, are infused with a powerful sense of narrative. King himself is absent in one of the most stirring images: an empty bus during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The green, riderless seats affirm the King quotation that opens the book: "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve." Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Jan.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 3--In this book inspired by the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Weatherford and Ransome offer advice to a new generation of change-makers. In each spread, Weatherford repeats the refrain "You can be a King" and encourages young readers to continue Dr. King's work by taking such actions as getting a good education, standing up to bullies, believing in important causes, doing one's best, having a dream, and helping others. Each piece of advice alludes to Dr. King's life, and in some cases, recalls his speeches and writing. Ransome's art, rendered in acrylics, colored pencils, oils, and gouache, adds depth to the deceptively simple text. The illustrations alternate between full spreads depicting important events from Dr. King's life and the civil rights movement and a contemporary classroom in white space, in which a diverse group of children paint a mural of Dr. King and prepare their own march for social justice. There is a shift in the style of the art here as well; the historical scenes maintain a serious tone, while the contemporary scenes evoke a more childlike quality. An author's note provides a brief biography of Dr. King and also offers insight into both Weatherford's text as well as many of the historical moments captured in Ransome's illustrations. As such, while the book is accessible as an inspiring primer on social justice and taking action, it also challenges more sophisticated readers to make connections between the art, the text, Dr. King's life, the civil rights movement at large, and the continuing struggle to affect change. VERDICT A first purchase, this book is sure to spark discussion and empower readers of all ages.--Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

While the book is accessible as an inspiring primer on social justice and taking action, it also challenges more sophisticated readers to make connections between the art, the text, Dr. King's life, the civil rights movement at large, and the continuing struggle to affect change. . . .This book is sure to spark discussion and empower readers of all ages. - Starred review, School Library Journal

Thoughtful paintings of moving scenes are paired with brief, motivational reflections that evoke all the sentiment and fervor of the American civil rights movement. - Foreword Review

The book manages to make essential lessons in civic responsibility accessible to the very young reader. - Booklist

The historical scenes, painted in Ransome's signature thick, saturated style, are infused with a powerful sense of narrative. - Publishers Weekly

The use of rich, realistic paintings with pencil detailing for King's life contrasts with the brighter, simpler drawings for the contemporary children, giving a physical reminder that his work is ongoing. - School Library Connection

Bold, honest, informative, and unforgettable. - starred review, Kirkus Reviews on VOICE OF FREEDOM: FRANNIE LOU HAMER

Told in the first person from Hamer's own perspective, this lyrical text in verse emphasizes the activist's perseverance and courage, as she let her booming voice be heard. - starred review, School Library Journal on VOICE OF FREEDOM: FRANNIE LOU HAMER

Caldecott Honor winner Weatherford has rendered Hamer's voice so precisely that it is like sitting at her knee as she tells her story. - starred review, Bookist on VOICE OF FREEDOM: FRANNIE LOU HAMER

Visceral, intimate and plainly told, this story is sure to move young children. - The New York Times Book Review on WORDS SET ME FREE

Ransome's acrylic and oil paintings combine striking naturalism with a palette of inky greens and blues. - starred review, Publishers Weekly on WORDS SET ME FREE

Carole Boston Weatherford
New York Times best-selling author Carole Boston Weatherford's 60-plus books include the Caldecott Honor book Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, for which she was awarded the Coretta Scott King Author Award and a Sibert Honor; the Newbery Honor winner Box; and the Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo Square, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Moses. She won a Coretta Scott King Author Honor for Becoming Billie Holiday. Weatherford teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Visit cbweatherford.com.

Floyd Cooper (1956-2021) illustrated over 110 books for children, including Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor, the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and a Sibert Honor. He was also the recipient of the CorettaScott King Award for The Blacker the Berry; three Coretta Scott King Honors for I Have Heard of a Land, Meet Danitra Brown, and Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea; 10 ALA Notables; and an NAACP Image Award, among other honors. Visit floydcooper.com.

Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9780802723680
Lexile Measure
360L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
January 20, 2018
Series
-

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