From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–As Assistant Secretary of the Interior under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Oscar Chapman played a vital role in securing Marian Anderson's use of the Lincoln Memorial as a venue for her free concert in 1939. Hopkinson ties incidents from Chapman's childhood to his efforts on Anderson's behalf, establishing that he never shied away from controversy. His refusal to testify against two African-American friends unfairly accused of stealing demonstrates a long history of opposing injustice. This sets the stage for the adult Chapman's willingness to find the perfect location for Anderson's performance and his work for FDR's approval. He also ensured that every V.I.P. in Washington was personally invited to attend. Of course, the event was a blazing success and remains a touchstone of the Civil Rights Movement. Hopkinson's slant on Chapman's contributions provides food for thought. The mixed-media illustrations succeed best when the action shifts to Washington where Jenkins can rely on the historical record in composing his work. The earlier scenes are confusingly jumbled. An endnote lists some of the author's sources, but none of the quotes in the text are specifically cited. Still, the book could provoke meaningful discussion about character formation and civic responsibility.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
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Growing up poor and white in Virginia at the turn of the twentieth century, Oscar Chapman watched as his black friends became victims of racism. He grew up to become an important government official in Washington, D.C., and, with his friend Walter White, a light-skinned African American, he lobbied the powerful to challenge the racist Daughters of the American Revolution and allow Marian Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial, where 75,000 people came to hear her, and where, 24 years later, Martin Luther King Jr. made his most famous speech. Jenkins' powerful, bright, mixed-media collages show and tell the connections, past, present, and future, as the politician remembers his childhood experiences and his works for civil rights. A final spread celebrates King, Anderson, and a circle of children together. A long author's note fills in the political history, including the role of Eleanor Roosevelt. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved