Tag Archives: poetry picture book

voice of freedom: fannie lou hamer, spirit of the civil rights movement

22747807Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer,  Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (2015).


A remarkable book for a remarkable woman. Just look at that cover! It so beautifully captures her spirit with vivid yet textured collage. Fannie Lou— sunlight, voice, and beacon for the other voting rights activists silhouetted behind her. She wears yellow almost every time she’s pictured throughout this gorgeously-illustrated book.




(click image(s) to enlarge)

VOICE OF FREEDOM. Text copyright © 2015 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Ekua Holmes. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.


Each spread is an illustration accompanied by a first person poem telling Fannie’s story from her own (imagined combined with quoted) point of view. Every one will move you.


“My mother taught me years ago that black is beautiful.”


Beginning. 1917. Mississippi. The youngest of twenty children. Her parents, sharecroppers. Soon, her dragging cotton in the fields too. “Sharecropping was just slavery by a gentler name. The same folks still had us, had in chains.” But she had a strong, loving mother who gave her a black doll to help her feel proud of who she was.



“When you read…you know—

and you can help yourself and others.”

Middle. Marriage. Hard work. Motherhood. Fannie Lou adopted two children and then was tricked into an operation to prevent her from having any biologically.

She was introduced to her right to vote, a right not honored by any stretch. Fired. Fired at. Beat up. Still, she sang for freedom and civil rights. Fannie Lou ran for congress. She spoke to student volunteers and to lawmakers. She made a televised speech to the Democratic convention about her experience.

“The only thing they could do was kill me

and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit

at a time ever since I could remember.”


End. 1977. Fannie Lou left a legacy of fighting for justice, helping others, and making a difference by being committed and courageous.

This is a book for the older set of picture book readers (and for everyone) to learn about this important story of civil rights, in the details not just the big moments. To get a glimpse into that struggle and to see how any progress ever made is made by people like Fannie Lou. In fits and starts and setbacks and fierce determination, despite powerful opposition, to see small steps accomplished so all benefit.










You can read Hamer’s testimony about being arrested and beaten when trying to register to vote in Mississippi here.

And Candlewick has a brief video about the book, including an appearance from its author here.



Big thanks to Candlewick for images of the book!


picture books about books (or poems)



I love a book about a book or story or language or reading, don’t you? It’s like a cupcake with extra frosting for bibliophiles. It affirms the things we like while indulging in them.

These two are a perfect pair for that.


A Book Is a Book by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins (2013).

I love this one so much. I just reread it and laughed aloud alone in my apartment several times.


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“A book is to read” the first spread tells us. Yup and yes. But a book is more than that too in this whimsical take on the written word and story that’s clearly had input from the real things kids say.


Some favorites:

“Reading a book of pictures is still reading.” Word.

“Reading books in bed is great, but not really heavy ones.” True.


“It is impossible to read in the shower.”

“How a book smells depends on what it’s been through.”



This book will charm the pages off you, book lovers!

And we must see more of Sarah Wilkins’s wonderful artwork! We must!


Thanks to Myrick Marketing for images!



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This Is a Poem That Heals Fish by Jean-Pierre Siméon and Olivier Tallec (2007).


This book is mind-bending and I mean that as the highest praise. (Get ready for animals and objects who talk like it’s old hat.)

Here’s how it goes. A boy named Arthur has a fish named Leon who looks like he’s sick and going to die. Arthur’s mother’s solution is to give the fish a poem to revive it. Of course! A poem!


“But what is a poem?”

That’s what Arthur wants to know. And that’s what this book is about. It’s a story about poetry and it’s poetry itself.



When household appliances can’t answer Arthur’s question, he asks other people. They give the most baffling, beautiful answers. They speak of what poetry is to them.



“A poem, Arthur, is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.”

“A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.”

Aren’t those descriptions just gorgeous? And resonant?

And Tallec‘s illustrations so expressive.



Our main character Arthur is perplexed by the stuff people say about a poem. But he listens. He collects that stuff.

He tells that stuff to Leon.

And that stuff is a poem. A poem that heals his fish.

Poetry is pretty powerful stuff.


Thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for images!





The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (2007).

booksalwayseverywhereBooks Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini (2013).


My Pet Book by Bob Staake (2014).



It’s a Book by Lane Smith (2010).




I Am the Book by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Yayo (2011).

I Like Books by Anthony Browne (1988).

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (2011).



Got more books about books or reading or poetry? Lemme know!



 I received a review copy of A Book is A Book from Gecko Press; opinions are my own.