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CORETTA SCOTT

Author: Ntozake Shange

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

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Publisher: Amistad/Katherine Tegen Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Coretta Scott grew up in the segregated South. She walked to school with her brothers and sisters, while white children rode the bus. She met Martin Luther King, Jr. and they became partners in the fight against racism. This is an illustrated poem about Coretta Scott King's life.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 9

Interest Level: 5 to 8

Reading Level: 4.9

Age of Child: Read with 7-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: Our child sat quietly as we read the poem. She was particularly interested in the illustrations, and the images of the Scott siblings as children really grabbed her. When we finished reading, she wanted to go back to look at those pictures. As a first grader, she has learned more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this year, but there were terms that were alien to her - and that is good to hear.

Adult Reader Reaction: I enjoyed reading this book. I wasn't sure if a poem would work, but the author very effectively conveyed Scott's biography with simple, short lines of text. Nelson's illustrations are exceptional, and one spread (with the three children presumably looking at a school bus) is particularly haunting.

Pros: Simple presentation and vivid, detailed illustrations create a beautiful biography of Coretta Scott King for young readers.

Cons: Individuals who are uncomfortable talking about race relations or using the term Negro (used with respect) may wince in several places as they read the poem.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a beautiful book that is meant to be shared. It is not the substitute for a full biography, but it is very effective in introducing kids to some of the most important people in our history.

If You Liked This Book, Try: BOYCOTT BLUES: HOW ROSA PARKS INSPIRED A NATION   HIP HOP SPEAKS TO CHILDREN   MAHALIA JACKSON GOSPEL SINGER AND CIVIL RIGHTS CHAMPION (Young Patriot Series)

Educational Themes: In addition to telling Coretta Scott's story, the book also introduces themes of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. The author has created an excellent example you can use to show poetry as a way to present a biography.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 1.6

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - picture book, biography, poetry

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2009

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