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|Place to land : Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech that inspired a nation|
Author: Wittenstein, Barry
The true story behind the writing of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (07/15/19)
School Library Journal (09/01/19)
Booklist (+) (06/01/19)
The Hornbook (+) (00/09/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 06/01/2019 *Starred Review* The civil rights movement is magnified through the intimate lens of Martin Luther King Jr.’s momentous “I Have a Dream” speech, as—in the Willard Hotel before the March on Washington—he wrestles with what to say. Thoughtful, humble, vulnerable, and strong, Dr. King weighs his advisers’ guidance. As he bends over a legal pad, pencil in hand, the faces of those for whom he fights sit on his shoulders. “Martin saw Rosa, / Fannie Lou, / Emmett, / . . . and so many others / . . . arrested, beaten, shot, and hung.” Several important African American figures are honored—past, present, and future—all whose fates intersect in the moment when the reverend takes the pulpit. Dr. King leaves uncertainty behind as he abandons the agonized-over speech in favor of improvisation, summoning “the passion of a Sunday morning sermon.” Wittenstein’s free verse, beautifully subdued, flows crisp and clear, leaving room for Pinkney to shine. Collage artwork gives the impression of torn fabric—a striking metaphor—with holes being patched by old photographs of hymnals, maps, marchers, and flags, adding texture and tension to the expressive pencil and watercolor renderings. Back matter includes notes from author and artist, sources, bibliography, and further information on peripheral figures. Pair with Kadir Nelson’s I Have a Dream (2012) for discussions on the power of words and how, as this book reminds us, “those battles continue to be fought” today. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2019 Gr 2–5—Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech has been etched into the public consciousness. Yet King's actual speech was an in-the-moment response to the audience climate during the March on Washington. A bolt of encouragement from gospel singer Mahalia Jackson prompts King to "Tell them about the dream," igniting the raw passion that his pre-rehearsed words had been missing. Wittenstein's straightforward, informative text conveys both the urgency of King's words and the weight of his responsibility as a social justice icon, but does not compromise the sobering reality of the country's racial unrest in 1963. Pinkney's warm illustrations are reminiscent of courtroom sketches, transporting readers into the historic moment. He explains that he chose to use collage as "a way to reinforce place." Key figures, such as Senator John Lewis and diplomat Andrew Young, are labeled. One powerful double-page spread features the headshots of fallen social justice heroes to present a visual reminder of the blood, sweat, and pain extracted on the road to justice. Figures who were struck down by the brutal violence of white supremacy, like Emmett Till and Medgar Evans, have been drawn with their eyes closed. VERDICT Wittenstein and Pinkney's collaboration is an evocative study in King's speechwriting process. A work that takes a familiar topic and shapes it into a moving portrait of undeterred determination and conviction. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.—Vanessa Willoughby, School Library Journal - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.