Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Book reviews


Author(s): Doreen RappaportDownload  


The Barnes & Noble ReviewAcclaimed author Doreen Rappaport and Coretta Scott King Award winner Bryan Collier, who previously collaborated on
Freedom River
, have pooled their talents yet again in a stunning tribute to civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. An extraordinary picture-book biography, Martin’s Big Words consists of Rappaport’s own words interwoven with quotes from Dr. King…all powerfully brought to life by Collier’s striking, glorious art. Rappaport’s spare, gripping text and Collier’s distinctive collage-and-watercolor illustrations depict King’s life journey with reverence and dignity — beginning with his childhood experience of seeing “White Only” signs throughout his hometown, presenting his efforts as a civil rights crusader, and ending abruptly with his assassination. The front cover of the book immediately conveys King’s power and spiritual strength, consisting entirely of a lifelike portrait of him — the title and the author’s and illustrator’s names are relegated to the back cover. As Collier says in his illustrator’s note, he “tried to push [the imagery] to an emotional level that allows the reader to bring his or her own experience to it, without actually losing the intensity or the intention of the story.” His technique is utterly effective. By using simple, direct language — much of it King’s — the text offers young readers an accessible yet profound introduction to King’s legacy. It explains that as a child, he listened to his minister father’s “big words” and vowed to inspire others with such words when he grew up. The book’s final sentence: “His big words are alive for us today,” testifies to King’s success — and to the timeless importance of this great leader’s ideals. As further inspiration for interested readers, Martin’s Big Words includes a list of significant dates as well as a bibliography of resources for them to explore. (Jamie Levine)

Some Reviews: 1292 in

(NS) Becca

(NS) Becca rated it      

To begin, the pictures in this book are breathtaking. The illustrator uses collage and mixed media to convey the wonderfully inspiring story of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. The words make a statement aside from the pictures, pointedly addressing the issue that MLK, JR. lives on through his powerful words, “I have a dream…” The story walks the reader through the life of MLK, Jr. and the people who pushed him to live for his dreams despite all the anger in the world. Any child who reads this book will be touched and inspired.

Selah Pike

Selah Pike rated it     

The perfect way to introduce young children to MLK Jr. During this part of his speech: “. . . one day . . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” my daughter’s eyes got wide and said, “Oh, his dream came true!”

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) rated it      

This is a wonderfully powerful book. I was really concerned that I may not like it or it may go too deep for a children’s picture book. It really is perfect. I don’t see anyway this book could be better. The text, the illustrations, the amount of history shared; it just manages to capture all that it needs to perfectly without ending up too wordy.


elissa rated it      

Amazingly illustrated, and written so that you can read it aloud to a Kindergarten class (and up). You can even use just the “big words” with a preschool group.


Amy rated it      

Great children’s book with excellent illustrations. I just read it with the kids…they loved it. Leads to good discussion too!


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