Published January 5th 2016 by Dial Books
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America.
In I am Martin Luther Jr., author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos introduce us to Dr. King and his lifelong legacy of civil rights. Meltzer is thoughtful and introspective as he sets up the history behind Dr. King's pursuit of civil, including childhood experiences of discrimination.
Like previous books in the series, Meltzer does as nice job of highlighting significant events in Dr. King's life, including attending college, his involvement in the Rosa Parks movement, and even his arrest. Though these are undoubtedly weighty, complex issues, Meltzer always manages to streamline the dialogue in a way that doesn't take away any of the profundity, but still making it accessible to audiences.
While I've always enjoyed Eliopoulos's illustrations in each of the Ordinary People books, I particularly loved his approach toward bringing Dr. King's story to life. He doesn't hesitate to show the starkness that comes with discrimination, and illustrations like the split page showing the differences between white and black schools during the period will definitely fuel young minds.
However, Eliopoulous is also very careful to emphasize moments of bravery and triumph. His color palates and artistic choices for moments like the Birmingham march or the March on DC practically vibrate with their color choices, and do a fine job of emphasizing the genuine scope and triumph of such moments. Paired with Meltzer's poetic words, and the story is an unforgettable one.
Bottom line: Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulous beautifully bring Dr. King's legacy to life in this instructive, accessible book. Highly recommend for all readers, but especially for parents who are looking to start introducing their younger readers to important historical figures.