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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

March: Book One, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. Top Shelf Productions, 2013. $18.99 ages 12 and up

"After that trip,
home never felt the same,
and neither did I.
In the fall, I started riding
the bus to school, which
should've been fun...

But it was just another
sad reminder of how different
our lives were from those
of white children."

The graphic novel seems like a perfect way to tell this first story from John Lewis's perspective on the struggle for equality for all people under the civil rights act. In it, John Lewis collaborates with Andrew Aydin as co-author, and artist Nate Powell. It is a most effective way to share this compelling memoir.

It begins on January 20, 2009. Arriving at his office in Washington prior to President Obama's inauguration, he meets a mother and her two young sons. Not knowing he is there, she wants to share some of their history by visiting Mr. Lewis's office. He is happy to show them some of his memorabilia. He tells them he is the only person still living who spoke at the March on Washington in 1963, with Dr. Martin Luther King. One of the boys has a question:

"why do you have so many chickens?'

Leave it to kids to get to the heart of the story!  He tells his personal history as a memory that begins in tough times, when his family is working their farm in Alabama, and John is in charge of the chickens he so loves. He has strong feelings about the family eating those chickens, about becoming a minister and is not afraid to say what he feels. His Uncle Otis sees something special in him and arranges a trip in 1951 that makes a lasting impression, and leads John to his life's work.

Today John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders, is serving his 13th term as a U.S. Representative. His childhood led him to take the steps that landed a meeting with Dr. King and allowed him to join the fight for civil rights. He learned about the power of nonviolence and heroism, facing unbearable treatment and almost unbeatable odds. His courage and his willingness to stand tall and work peacefully for social change is sure to inspire readers:

"Lawson taught us how to protect ourselves,
how to disarm our attackers by connecting
with their humanity, how to protect each other,
how to survive.
But the hardest part to learn --
to truly understand, deep in
your heart --

was how to find LOVE for your attacker."

Powerful, positive and presented in a perfect format for its intended audience, this is a book about people who have made a difference in our world. Bravo!

March: Book Two is due for release in December from Top Shelf Productions. It's on my wish list.

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