Happy Short Story Saturday AND Valentine's Day, Reading Nook readers!
Today, I'm reviewing The Case for Loving. It's a lovely picture book about a real-life interracial couple, who struggled and fought against discrimination in the name of their love.
(Seriously, this seemed perfect for Valentine's Day!)
Selina Alko and Sean Qualls brings their tale to life in beautiful drawings and thoughtfully chosen prose, and this is definitely one book you'll want to read.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published January 6th 2015)
Format read: Finished copy (purchased)
With thoughtfully chosen sentences, and warm, colorful drawings that fold you into the warm embrace of the loving family, this is a book that is perfect for readers all of ages.
For most children these days, it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.
This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state's laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents' love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court--and won!
I've read many picture books that have fit that criteria over the years, but none which have struck a chord with me as much as The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Author Selina Alko shares the real-life story of the Loving family, an Afrian-American woman and a Caucasian man who fall in love and get married in 1958.
However, because of state laws in Virginia at the time, their relationship is considered a felony. Facing potential prison time, the couple is forced to leave Virginia, and make their home in Washington D.C. However, the couple decides to show that their love isn't wrong, and takes their case all the way to the Supreme Court - winning in a landmark decision.
Alko takes what is actually a very complex real-life story, and beatifully streamlines it for younger readers. She warmly shows the love that brings Richard and Mildred together, while also being careful to touch upon the tensions and the unfortunate historical precedent which dictated the laws designed to keep them apart.
The court case itself is also beautifully explained, with Alko quickly getting to the heart of the issue: that love is love, and these are just two people who want to prove to their family that their relationship is one to be proud of.
Alko also collaborated with husband Sean Qualls for the first time on the illustrations, jointly using paint and collage to tell Mildred and Richard's story. The illustrations are both bold and warm, showing both the genuine love between the couple, and the changing political landcape. The illustrations will definitely younger readers feel safe and comfortable, in what will likely be a thought-provoking topic.
Bottom line: The Case for Loving is just what we need in an environment that is seeking more diverse books. This is a book that helps readers of all ages understand just how far we have come in terms of diversity, and how it's often ordinary people with ordinary hopes, which change the landscape forever.
On a more personal note, as someone who is in an interracial relationship, reading this book is a touching, heartwarming reminder of the people who have fought for me, so I can have the freedoms that I do today. I am deeply thankful to both the Lovings, and to Selina and Sean, for giving me this wonderful reminder of how lucky I am.
About the author & the illustrator:
Selina Alko is the author and illustrator of several acclaimed books for children, including DADDY CHRISTMAS & HANUKKAH MAMA and B IS FOR BROOKLYN. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband--illustrator Sean Qualls--and their two children.
Sean Qualls has illustrated many celebrated books for children, including GIANT STEPS TO CHANGE THE WORLD by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, LITTLE CLOUD AND LADY WIND by Toni Morrison and her son Slade, DIZZY by Jonah Winter, and BEFORE JOHN WAS A JAZZ GIANT by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which Sean received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Selina Alko--also an author/illustrator--and their two children.