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.
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.