The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

by Chris Barton (Author) Don Tate (Illustrator)

A unique biography of a remarkable Reconstruction figure John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress. This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the first African-American congressmen.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Born a slave, John Roy Lynch would grow up to be one of the first African-American Congressmen, and Barton makes plain both the difficulty of this journey and Lynch's determination to succeed. After emancipation, Lynch took odd jobs and sought an education, his path into politics beginning with delivering speeches and working as a Justice of the Peace. Barton offers an immersive, engaging, and unflinching portrait of the difficulties of the Reconstruction era, while Tate's cartoonlike artwork softens moments of cruelty and prejudice without diminishing them. Ages 7-10. Author's agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)

Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5--In this inspiring picture book biography, Barton recounts how John Roy Lynch went from teenage slave to state representative in just 10 years during Reconstruction. The author describes how Lynch was born to an Irish father and an enslaved mother, making him "half Irish and all slave." Lynch learned to read and write and developed into an eloquent speaker, eventually becoming a justice of the peace and being elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. The vocabulary-rich text may be difficult for younger students, but Tate's illustrations, rendered in mixed media, ink, and gouache on watercolor paper, are extraordinary and carry the lengthy story well. The excellent cartoon-style paintings soften potentially disturbing details, such as the Ku Klux Klan burning a church. The book concludes with a thorough historical note. VERDICT Teachers will find this remarkable story of hope and perseverance a valuable supplement to social studies lessons on the Civil War and Black History Month.--Jennifer Simmons, Anderson County Library, SC

Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

CCBC Choices 2016

Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
"Barton offers an immersive, engaging, and unflinching portrait of the difficulties of the Reconstruction era, while Tate's cartoonlike artwork softens moments of cruelty and prejudice without diminishing them."

Booklist (STARRED review)
"The fascinating story of John Roy Lynch's life in slavery to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives at age 25 gets a stirring treatment here. . . . Tate's often expansive illustrations emphasize important incidents in the text. . . . The emphasis in other illustrations is on faces, full of emotion, which adds to the power of the telling, and the rich, soft tones of Tate's palette welcome the eye to linger."

School Library Journal
"In this inspiring picture book biography, Barton recounts how John Roy Lynch went from teenage slave to state representative in just 10 years during Reconstruction. . . . Tate's illustrations, rendered in mixed media, ink, and gouache on watercolor paper, are extraordinary and carry the lengthy story well. . . . Teachers will find this remarkable story of hope and perseverance a valuable supplement to social studies lessons on the Civil War and Black History Month."

Kirkus Reviews
"Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title's first three words-'The Amazing Age'-emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. . . . A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering."

Shelf-Employed (blog)
"More than just an inspirational story of a former slave who becomes a landholder, judge, and United States Congressman, it is a story that focuses on the great possibilities presented during the period of Reconstruction. . . . A powerful, historical reminder of what was, what might have been, and what is."

Librarian's Quest (blog)
"What is most impressive about the writing of Chris Barton in this title is his ability to captivate the reader immediately with his frank discussion of the events in which John Roy was born, raised and lived. . . . Don Tate recreates historical Mississippi for readers. Gorgeous two page spreads with intricate detail depict momentous occasions in John Roy Lynch's life and in the lives of others. . . . A remarkable biography. This is a man with whom we should all be familiar. The blend of narrative and pictures is compelling from beginning to end."

Nonfiction Detectives (blog)
"Barton highlights Lynch's ingenuity, focus, and luck. . . . Tate successfully balances the cheerfulness of Lynch's accomplishments with the dark times of violence."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A useful contribution to a period of American history largely unexplored in picture-book format."

BookDragon
"Picture book this is, yes, but I guarantee that unless you happen to be a post-Civil War scholar, you'll have something to learn inside these informative pages."

Jen Robinson's Book Page
"The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a book that belongs on library shelves everywhere. It is beautifully executed, interesting, and not to be missed."

Children's Literature
"This beautiful biography should be in every library frequented by young readers and introduced to them by parents and teachers who will also be amazed by the time and the man introduced to them in these pages."

Mississippi Library Commission
"A great introduction to some hard subjects — slavery and Reconstruction — for upper elementary and middle school readers. . . . Highly recommended."

Washington Parent
"Chris Barton has penned another fascinating picture-book biography. . . . With its timeline and engaging mixed-media illustrations by Don Tate, this book helps to fill the big gap for books about the Reconstruction Era."

Reading While White (blog)
"I can't recall when I've seen a book for children that is so deliberate about calling out racism for what it is. And [Chris Barton] does it with such clear, simple language, making this complex period in history accessible to young readers, just as Don Tate's clear stylized illustrations do. Even though the illustrations use a cartoon style, there are no happy, smiling slaves here. What we see instead is the pain and suffering they endured and later, the look of pride and determination on the face of John Roy Lynch, a free man. . . . Chris Barton's book can serve as a model for White authors who choose to write about African American history for children."
Chris Barton

Chris Barton is the author of the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller Shark vs. Train, which was a finalist for the 2011 Children's Choice Book Awards and named one of the best books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Parents, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and The Bank Street Children's Book Committee. Chris is also author of Mighty Truck, the American Library Association Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and Woosh: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, both illustrated by Don Tate. He lives in Austin, Texas with his family.
www.chrisbarton.info
@bartography

Ashley Spires grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the supposed stomping grounds of Bigfoot. She is the author and illustrator of a number of books for children, including The Most Magnificent Thing, Small Saul, and The Adventures of Binky the Space Cat. She was the recipient of the 2011 Silver Birch Express Award and the 2011 Hackmatack Award for Binky the Space Cat and was shortlisted for a Joe Shuster Comics for Kids Award and an Eisner Award for Binky Under Pressure. Ashley lives in British Columbia.
www.ashleyspires.com
@ashleyspires

Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9780802853790
Lexile Measure
920L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Publication date
April 20, 2015
Series
Incredible Lives for Young Readers
Parents Choice Awards (Spring) (2008-Up)
Silver Medal Winner 2015 - 2015

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