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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Case for Loving, by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Scholastic, 2015. $20.99 ages 6 and up

"Richard was white: a fair-skinned boy who got quickly sunburned in July. Mildred was what they called "colored" in those days: her skin a creamy caramel. In 1958, they lived in the small town of Central Point, Virginia, where people every shade from the color of chamomile tea to summer midnight made their homes."

A number of young people today are sure to be surprised that there was a time when it was against the law for two people, who loved each other but had different colored skin, to marry. Or maybe not ... as the fight for gay marriage remains an issue in many parts of the world.

When Richard and Mildred fell in love in 1958 in Central Point, Virginia, it was against the law for them to marry. Virginia was one of the seventeen states where interracial marriages were prohibited. They were not prepared to go to jail, so they went to Washington, D. C. to tie the knot. They didn't know that their marriage certificate would not be honored in their home state. One night, the police came to their home and they were arrested. While in jail, they were told they would have to leave Virginia if they wanted to live together.

They moved to Washington; living in the city with a growing family was not what the Lovings wanted for themselves. They wanted to go home. They hired lawyers who would help them fight the laws that kept them from doing so. It was a long battle, and finally made its way to the Supreme Court.

This is a very special story, written with warmth and strength. Sean Qualls and Selina Alko recognize the importance of that court decision because they, too, are an interracial couple whose lives are better because the Lovings worked so hard to have the law changed. Richard and Mildred did what they did for themselves and their family; still, they helped to change history. It is emotionally told, yet absolutely appropriate for the intended audience.

The mixed media illustrations done by both clearly show their great love, the pain of their struggle, and their joy when the Supreme Court decision was made in their favor. Touching and historically important, it is a story that should be shared.

An author's note is an important addition, explaining that today it is difficult to imagine such a thing happening; yet, there is a continuing struggle to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. We have come a long way and must always work toward equality for all. A source list and suggestions for further reading are also included.

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