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My Uncle Martin's Big Heart Hardcover – September 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3–A niece recalls the times she spent as a young girl with her famous uncle. “He was a great civil rights leader and an American hero….His name was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But to me, it was Uncle Martin. Actually, it was Uncle M.L.” Watkins briefly mentions some of the famous events associated with King during the civil-rights era, such as protest marches and speeches, but the focus is on the special relationship the child shared with a favorite uncle and the details she remembers, such as his humor and laughter. An apt example is an illustration in which the author races down the aisle after services at Ebenezer and into the outstretched arms of her uncle. Realistic and warm paintings fill each page. Combine this memoir with Christine King Farris's My Brother Martin (S & S, 2003) and March on! The Day My Brother Martin Changed The World (Scholastic, 2008). These books written by close relatives give young children a valuable and more personal insight into the man's family life and times.Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In this warm, handsome picture book, Watkins celebrates her loving relationship as a small preschooler with “Uncle M. L.” From the opening double-page spread, in which King addresses a huge crowd with his “I have a dream” speech, the girl speaks about taking pride in her uncle’s political role as a civil rights leader and national hero. Even more, though, she focuses on personal moments, and the images show moving close-ups of her as a little girl welcoming King, her mother’s brother, in her family’s home or running down a church aisle with pigtails flying, ready to be picked up and kissed by the great leader. Prizewinning artist Velasquez is at his best here, creating many individual faces among the huge packed rallies on the street, and in portraits, he shows the affection that the child and her uncle share. Idyllic, yes, but for small kids, this puts a human face on the legend, and children will be interested in the small sepia-toned childhood photo of Angela in her uncle’s arms. Preschool-Grade 2. --Hazel Rochman

Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810989751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810989757
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.5 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Do you know off hand who challenged racial prejudice in the United States with a famous speech saying, "I have a dream!"? If you answered Martin Luther King Jr., go to the head of the class. King was a minister and a civil rights leader who marched, protested, made speeches, and wrote books to help change the laws in America so that all people had equal rights. However, he was also a family man. In this debut picture book, one of his nieces, Angela Farris Watkins, daughter of King's sister Christine Farris, introduces children to her uncle. The author, her brother, and her five cousins who were children of King's brother gave King the family nickname of "Uncle M. L.," but out in public they usually just called him "Uncle Martin."
Angela was only about four when her uncle was killed, but she remembers that while he had to be gone a lot, he enjoyed spending time with his family when he was home and sent telegrams when he was away. She also recalls his frequent visits to her family's house, including one in which he fell asleep on their couch with his shoes on--something she was never allowed to do! And she has fond recollections of his keen sense of humor and contagious laughter. But her most special memories are the times in church when she would come out of Sunday school and her uncle would be standing in line to greet people, but she would run to him and he would step aside to pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss. My Uncle Martin's Big Heart, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Winner Eric Velasquez, provides a unique glimpse into the private life of Martin Luther King Jr., emphasizing his love for his family, his love for his fellow man, and his love for God. I found it enlightening and inspiring.
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Format: Hardcover
There are many books for young people available about Martin Luther King, Jr., but this new picture book adds a different and welcome dimension to the usual biographies of the famous civil rights leader. Written by Martin Luther King's niece, Angela Farris Watkins, who was almost 4 years old when King was assassinated, the book offers a highly personal reminiscence of the man, not the icon.

The author's voice used throughout the book is Angela herself as a young girl (although a bit older than she actually was at the time), and although she is aware of her uncle as a great leader and an American hero, she concentrates on the man she knew as Uncle M.L., the family's special nickname for him. We see a man who loved to laugh and make others laugh, who loved to spend time with his family, and who although he worked very long hours, managed to find time not only for his own immediate family, but for his nieces and nephews as well! We even see Uncle M.L. spread out sleeping on Angela's family sofa with his shoes on, obviously a big no-no in the house, but OK for uncle M.L., since he was so tired from his hard work.Angela also talks about Uncle M.L. the preacher and his great voice, and there's a delightful depiction of one of her favorite memories of her uncle, where she would run up to him after he finished on the pulpit for a great big hug, dressed in her "very best church dress."

In the end, the author emphasizes that Uncle M. L.'s big heart full of love was what made him so special--his love not only for his family, but for America. In an author's note, she writes: "I wrote this book so that children could get to know Martin Luther King Jr. the way I knew him when I was a child, through his love...
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Format: Hardcover
"My Uncle Martin's Big Heart" is a wonderful biographical memory book for young children about the great freedom fighter and preacher, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as remembered by his four-year old niece (at the time). Full of warmly colorful authentic illustrations of intimate family life involving M.L. or Uncle Martin, "My Uncle Martin's Big Heart" is a book which truly brims and overflows with love and warmth, just as the author's memories testify. Without neglecting or ignoring all the vastly important work done by Reverend King, "My Uncle Martin's Big Heart" goes straight to a core message which he delivered as his lifetime gift: the way to heal conflict between races and groups is through love, not violence. This intimate family profile of a great man is a priceless addition to the King biographies and materials, band it is meant to be savored by children of all ages.
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By jezreel on May 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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