Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:
Delivering Justice W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights
Written by Jim Haskins
Illustrated by Benny Andrews
Candlewick Press, 2005
Suitable for ages: 5-8
Theme/Topic: Civil Rights, Segregation
Opening Spread: Savannah, Georgia 1932 The smell of his grandma’s biscuits lured Westley to the kitchen. Westley was excited because today was Thursday, the day he would see his mother. The rest of the week, she worked for a white family just outside Savannah, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their children. This was her day off.
Grandma’s friend Old John was sitting at the table. Westley loved listening to the old man’s stories. Old John had been born a slave. He had been taken from his mother and had never known her. He was nice — Westley’s age — when he and all the slaves were freed in 1865. Westley felt lucky — at least he saw his own mama once a week.
Brief Synopsis: from Candlewick Press—
“Grow up and be somebody,” Westley Wallace Law’s grandmother encouraged him as a young boy living in poverty in segregated Savannah, Georgia. Determined to make a difference in his community, W.W. Law assisted blacks in registering to vote, joined the NAACP and trained protestors in the use of nonviolent civil disobedience, and, in 1961, led the Great Savannah Boycott. In that famous protest, blacks refused to shop in downtown Savannah. When city leaders finally agreed to declare all of its citizens equal, Savannah became the first city in the south to end racial discrimination.
A lifelong mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, W.W. Law saw fostering communication between blacks and whites as a fundamental part of his job. As this affecting, strikingly illustrated biography makes clear, this “unsung hero” delivered far more than the mail to the citizens of the city he loved.
A gripping biography of the mail carrier who orchestrated the Great Savannah boycott — and was instrumental in bringing equality to his community.
Resources: Education resources on desegregation. The book has a number of talking points about segregation. It’s a difficult concept for children today to think about a time when people were treated differently, because of their skin color. The second spread gives a clear example of how W.W. Law and his grandmother were treated differently in a department store by clerks.
Why I Like this Book: Enzo found this book at the school library last week. It really breaks down the topic of segregation in digestible chunks for his age range. The opening spread really sets the stage, so children know this was a very different time period.
For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.
Cathy Ballou Mealey says
Nice to feature an older book Stacy – new to me. Might be good to pair with Susan Meyer’s “New Shoes” as well.
Cathy Ballou Mealey says
The email I opened after yours was from Peachtree Publishers announcing “Thank a Mailman Day” on February 4th. Apropos! Although I do believe “Mail Carrier” is the current preferred term. 😉
Clara Bowman-Jahn says
Breaking down a difficult issue in small amounts so kids of any age understand it is an art worthy of reading. I will get this book from my library.
Thanks for sharing!
Leslie Leibhardt Goodman says
The words of Westley Wallace’s grandmother to “Grow up and be somebody,” could well inspire many children who read this book. Good words to live by.
Beth Anderson says
I hadn’t heard of this one. Nice to know that Enzo chose it! Thanks for sharing.
Sue Wang says
I love this -it’s biography, true story -a sense of history and understanding of what went on. I like that it’s in Westley’s first person POV. It instills empathy, and put us in his shoes. It is unfathomable how some people wouldn’t see their mothers ever, or once a day. Yet, people live with that, even today. The migrant workers and refugees. Sigh. Bless you and Enzo’s souls.
Sue Wang says
I meant not see own mother ever, or once a WEEK.
Rosi Hollinbeck says
This sounds really good. I hadn’t heard of it. Thanks for the heads up.
Julie Rowan-Zoch says
New to me too – will definitely be looking for this!
This sounds really good–love that it covers such an important part of our history in a way kids can understand. Thanks!
Penny Parker Klostermann says
Wow! That opening spread is powerful. Thanks for sharing this book, Stacy.
Sue Heavenrich says
I love the title. And the opening. I haven’t read this book yet – thanks for sharing it.
Joanne Sher says
Wow – I definitely need to give this one a look. Thanks, Stacey!
Jilanne Hoffmann says
Great choice, Stacey! One to add to my TBR pile. Thanks!