The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

by Cynthia Levinson (Author) Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrator)

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you're never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham's segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher's words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan--picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!--she stepped right up and said, I'll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child's role in the Civil Rights Movement.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4--Levinson's We've Got a Job followed nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks and three other youths who were among the thousands of children and teens who marched for freedom in Birmingham, AL, in 1963. Here, she pulls from that material, including personal interviews, to highlight Hendricks's story for younger audiences, telling it from her subject's perspective. The author introduces the Hendricks family's frequent dinner guests, Mike, Fred, and Jim--the ministers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Shuttlesworth, and James Bevel, respectively. She also describes the indignities of African American life in Alabama at the time. When Mike's campaign to protest segregation and "fill the jails" doesn't work, young Audrey eagerly volunteers for Jim's new idea--getting children to march. Digital collage illustrations show a young, pigtailed Audrey and her family mostly smiling and happy leading up to the march--she even brings a new board game to pass the time. Pictures and words combine to depict the discomfort of Hendricks's actual experience: loneliness, unpalatable food, angry white interrogators, and even solitary confinement. Like young Audrey, readers will be relieved when her weeklong sentence is up and she goes home to "hot rolls, baptized in butter," and the promise of a brighter future. VERDICT Simplified and sweetened, but still a significant portrayal of Audrey Faye Hendricks and the Children's March. For collections in need of history materials for the younger set.--Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Levinson returns to the subject of We've Got a Job as she recounts, for a younger audience, the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks and her role in the 1963 Children's March in Birmingham, Ala. Moving briskly through events, Levinson explains how the young Hendricks was eager to stand up to segregation, marching alongside thousands of fellow students, who were subsequently arrested. Newton's bright, digitally assembled collages adeptly highlight the danger of the situation--grim cells, barbed-wire fences, children blasted with fire hoses--while emphasizing the power of the marchers' collective efforts to push back against injustice. Ages 5-10. Author's agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A significant portrayal of Audrey Faye Hendricks and the Children's March."— "School Library Journal, November 2016"
Cynthia Levinson
Since she doesn't draw or paint, Cynthia Levinson tells true stories about brave people, like Ben Shahn, and the injustices they've faced through words. She loves doing research, which has allowed her not only to visit Shahn's studio but also to walk with soldiers of the civil rights movement, fall off a tightwire, and read letters in a condemned building surrounded by police tape. Cynthia's books for young readers have won many awards. She lives in Austin and Boston. Evan Turk is an Ezra Jack Keats Book Award-winning illustrator, author, and animator. He is the author-illustrator of The Storyteller, You are Home: An Ode to the National Parks, and A Thousand Glass Flowers. He also illustrated Grandfather Gandhi and Muddy, a NYT Best Illustrated Children's Book. Originally from Colorado, Evan now lives in the Hudson River Valley with his husband and two cats. He is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and continues his studies through Dalvero Academy.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date
January 20, 2017

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