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Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Paperback – Bargain Price, December 18, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, December 18, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this elegant pictorial biography of Martin Luther King Jr., author Doreen Rappaport combines her spare, lyrical text with King's own words for an effective, age-appropriate portrayal of one of the world's greatest civil rights leaders. From King's youth, when he looked up to his preacher father and vowed one day to "get big words, too," to his death at a garbage workers' strike ("On his second day there, he was shot. He died."), Rappaport imbues the story with reverence.

Acclaimed artist Bryan Collier depicts his subject with stunning watercolor and collage illustrations, balancing glorious recreations of stained glass windows with some of the more somber images of peace marchers and the famous bus that pitched Rosa Parks into the civil rights movement. A brief chronology and bibliography provide additional resources for readers. Here is an exquisite tribute to a world hero. (Ages 4 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This picture-book biography provides an ideal introduction to this leader and his works. Juxtaposing original text with quotes from King's writing and speeches, Rappaport's (Escape from Slavery) narrative offers a pastiche of scenes from King's life, beginning with his childhood experience of seeing "White Only" signs sprinkled throughout his hometown. He questions his mother about their meaning, and she assures him, "You are as good as anyone." Listening to his father preach, the boy asserts that "When I grow up, I'm going to get big words, too." Rappaport also touches upon King's role in the Montgomery bus strike that followed Rosa Park's 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger and his subsequent efforts as a civil rights crusader. After briefly describing the circumstances of his death, the story concludes, quite abruptly, with the statement, "His big words are alive for us today." The author relies on her subject's own words, and his power, passion and pacifism shine through. Collier's (Uptown) striking watercolor and cut paper collage art feature closely focused, lifelike images of King and other individuals against an inventive montage of patterns and textures. The portraits of King exude his spiritual strength and peaceful visage. In the background of some scenes are intricate recreations of stained glass windows, which, Collier explains in an introductory note, he interprets as a metaphor for King's life. An elegant, understated pictorial biography. Ages 5-9.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (December 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423106350
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 9.9 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,440,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first started reviewing children's books on Amazon.com I gave myself a long list of rules to follow. And one of those rules stated that I was not to read other reviews of a book on the site until AFTER I'd written my own review. I wanted my little writings to remain unsullied and pure, filled only with my own thoughts (which I obviously mistook to be brilliant) and feelings. After a while though I gave up on this rule. By and large (and this is not speaking for all reviews... just 90% of them) a review for a children's book goes something along the lines of "It was good, my four-year-old requests it every night, buy this book, etc.". Nothing too shocking or revealing. So I grew lazy. I started reading other reviews of picture books long before I sat down to actually write a review of my own. Just moments ago I went to do the same thing for the beautiful picture book, "Martin's Big Words". This book was on my list of must-reads because it had garnered itself a Caldecott Honor years before. So I went to the appropriate Amazon.com page (much as you are now) and read the first review on the list. At the time, it was an unassuming July 18, 2002 review entitled, "There's Something Wrong Here...". I read the review. I digested the review. And I came to the inescapable opinion that the points raised in the review were good ones. Ones that I should consider, dare I say, in my OWN review. This is unprecedented. Never has a review for a book, a children's book, really hit home for me like this one did. So to that mysterious reader who thought to make a point back in 2002, I commend you. And to myself, a mental whipping for breaking my own rules. It's a hard act to follow, but I've a point or two of my own to make and I'm gonna make `em.Read more ›
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By A Customer on January 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is so good! I have read the book to students from Kindergarten to 5th grade. They were completely entranced by the book. I teach English language learners so they do not know American history. My African students in particular were facinated by the history presented in the book and were very respectful while I read. I have a presentation of Martin Luther King Jr. in my classroom and the students would walk with me to the presentation area and ask questions about the pictures and the history depicted in them. They loved a drawing of Martin in the Birmingham jail and the Nobel Peace Prize he won. This book helped me present an important person to my students in a way that was meaningful and memorable.
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By A Customer on February 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly amazing book, from many perspectives. As a children's book, it is an interesting and acccurate introduction into the life of one of the most important men of our time. It captures the reader, both the young and not so young, with its moving illustrations and powerful text. My six year old was captured by the "Whites Only" sign; she has referred to it numerous times since reading the book. "Mom, would black people have been able to go here/sit here,etc. without Dr. King's words?" has been a consistent question for her, and inspired some thought provoking conversations for us. I can't over stress the importance of this book. It is engaging and honest, refreshingly simple in the delivery of it's most important message, that we must remember to fight with words, rather than our fists. This is a wonderful classroom addition, the historical time line encourages additional discussion of the events surrounding King's life. Martin's Big Words will engage preschoolers through grades 4-5, and encourage them to consider and discuss this eloquent and visionary man. It quietly encourages children to consider the limitless possibilties of their future.
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Format: Hardcover
On the surface, Martin's big words appears to be a wonderful way for kids to learn about MLK. When I sat down to read it with my 3-year-old girl (and learned that she already knew about Dr. King from nursery school), I expected to be pleased. It was she, however, who noticed in the march drawings that there were no little girls. Perhaps she was trying to find a connection for herself. Then I took a closer look and realized there were no women at all in the march drawings (yes, the artist/writer does pay tribute to the four little girls killed in the church bombing, but what a child notices most are the pictures) ... and then, that there were no white people in the march drawing. In fact, the only place white people exist in this book are as racist Southerners. Funny, that's not how I remember the civil rights fight.
All of sudden, the beauty of the drawings and the words took on a new meaning -- this is a book that paints the Civil Rights movement as one of the black people, by the black people and for the black people. The true strength of the movement came from the participation, sacrifice, and yes deaths, of men, women and children of all races and creeds. And if a 3-year-old notices it, something must be wrong.
Is this book a wonderful idea -- yes. Does it paint an accurate picture of the Civil Rights Movement -- no. Are these complaints too subtle -- absolutely not. The devil, my friends, is in the details!
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By A Customer on December 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book, not really knowing much about it. Once I opened it up, saw the beautiful artwork and imagery and read the story, I was amazed. This book gives an excellent, truthful, beautiful portrayal of a restless time in our history. The final page with the picture of Martin in the stained glass windows, overlooking four candles which represent the four little girls who died in the Birmingham church bombing was beautiful. Yes, it's true: some of this history might be frightening for small children. But the theme is important: Dr. King taught people to use their voices, not their fists. As long as a parent is engaged enough to talk about this with their child, the child should have no problem hearing, reading and loving this book.
Now I want to buy a copy for every kid (and adult) I know.
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