Published October 11th 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Format read: Finished copy
Even as a very young boy, John Lewis knew he wanted to be a preacher when he grew up. He wanted to be the kind of leader who could use his passionate speeches to stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action.
But why wait to grow up? At five years old, when he became the official caretaker of the sixty chickens on his family’s farm, he realized he had a wonderful audience to practice on—and they became this brave Civil Rights activist’s first flock, content under his watchful care and riveted by the power of his words.
So when I realized that Nancy Paulsen's imprint - an imprint that I've come to enjoy and absolutely delight in - was putting out a picture book about his life, I was overjoyed. Not only did I expect to like the book, I also figured that this was a fantastic way for younger readers to get acquainted with the Congressman's life as well.
Preaching to Chickens is utterly gorgeous, detailing the genuine challenges and accomplishments that Lewis experienced as he was growing up. There's a nod to some of the socio-economic challenges Lewis faced as a youngster, and strong admiration for his perseverance in the face of everything life brought to him.
The book especially delights in focusing on Lewis's willingness to preach to and take care the chickens on his family's property, and how his leadership skills are developed as he raises and cares for the hens. Asim is careful and thoughtful as he showcases Lewis's willingness to tackle challenges head-on like a sick chick after a baptism gone awry, and nudges readers to understand how it's that willingness to accept life's adversities and continue on, which has helped him transform into the person we see today.
With gorgeous watercolor illustrations from E.B. White which help set up the warmth and vibrancy of Lewis's background, this is an unforgettable tale. Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author & illustrator: