Written by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin
Illustrated by Nate Powell
It’s so easy to see why this volume has won so many awards and gotten so much attention. Packed with emotion and written by one who was there, it never steps outside of John Lewis’ experience and always speaks to how he felt at the time. It’s written in a way that draws in even the most reluctant reader.
By September of 1963, John Lewis was coordinating the efforts by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register blacks to vote in Mississippi and Alabama. As a student, he’d spent prior years with the Freedom Riders just trying to gain the right to ride public transportation and eat and sleep as a regular citizen. When the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed in 1963, killing four young girls, even more people were inspired to register. Time after time, long lines waited while the clerks and police devised more ways to deny them the right. No lines on the sidewalk. Only four in the courthouse. Impossible literacy tests. They fought an uphill battle against the FBI, an uncaring Washington, and those within the movement who would respond with violence, but fight they did. They even fought the Democratic Party, who refused to recognize the delegation from the Freedom Democratic Party, led by Fannie Lou Hamer, at their convention. Eventually, after many years of beatings and other violence, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. And, of course, John Lewis went on to become a Congressman and to see an African-American President.
It’s so difficult to underestimate the importance of this book. It’s a must read.
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- Title: March: Book Three
- Author: John Lewis & Andrew Aydin
- Illustrator: Nate Powell
- Published: Top Shelf Productions, 2016
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Paperback, 184 pages
- Grade Level: 6 up
- Genre: Graphic memoir
- ISBN: 978-1-60309-402-3
Written by J.J. Johnson
This new book is recommended for anyone who eats. Heartfelt and very readable, this is a memoir from a recovering bulimarexic, an eating disorder featuring low weight and purging. She shows how personal issues, especially those with food, can affect everything you do and your relationships with everyone.
At fifteen, Jennifer had gotten very good at hiding her problems from her family and friends, but it became obvious to her that she needed help. So, when she suggested to her parents that she check into the eating disorders unit of a psychiatric hospital, they thought she was looking for attention. Turns out, she really did need help and so did her family. Of course the unit was way worse than she could have imagined, with forced eating, monitored bathroom visits, nasty co-patients, and despicable staff. Jennifer did find the help she needed, though, to set her on the road to a healthy life and a better relationship with her family. Jennifer also learned that, even though others around her also need help, she couldn’t always provide the help they needed.
The subject matter is often complex and for mature students. Sixth graders and up should have no problems with it, though. They can learn a lot about health – both physical and mental – and about interpersonal relations. Despite the page count, the book reads very quickly, as it’s set up as a diary.
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- Title: be*liev*a*rex*ic
- Author: J.J. Johnson
- Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2015
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
- Grade Level: 5 Up
- Genre: Memoir, Eating disorders
- ISBN: 978-156145-771-7
Written by Leon Leyson
Leon Leyson was one of the boys on Schindler’s list. As explained in this memoir, he was so small at the time that he had to stand on a box to reach the buttons and dials of the machine he was operating. This sad, but not graphic depiction of the Holocaust, is important for fifth grade readers, sixth grade readers and beyond,
It is important that the world not forget what happened in our recent history. But it is also important that it be told in such a way that will not cause nightmares or fear of exploring the world. Lesson does an excellent job of separating the German people from those in the Nazi party. He trusted Germans before the war and returned to Germany after the war.
A remarkable thing about this memoir is the strength of hope exhibited and the resiliency of this young man. Again and again it seemed he would never see his family again. Over and over he was put in a line that would lead to his death. But still he survived. Thanks to Oscar Schindler. Most people were unaware of the heroic deeds of that one man until a movie was made. However, students in grades five an up might not be aware of the film.
As students, teachers and librarians continue to read and teach The Diary of Anne Frank, they should also be reading and teaching this memoir. This story continued on past the ghetto, the camps, and the death. Perhaps because of his age, young Leon was able to pick up his hopes and dreams and immigrate into the United States. He continued on to live a happy and productive life. For decades, his own children did not know the story of his being a Schindler’s boy in his teens.
How thrilled Leon was, though, in the fall of 1965 in Los Angeles, to have Oscar Schindler recognize and remember him.
This book will fulfill multiple literacy skills as well as history and social studies requirements in the core curriculum and should be part of every school library collection.
- Title: The Boy on the Wooden Box
- Author: Leon Leyson
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014
- Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
- Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-4424-9781-8
- Genre: Memoir
- Grade Level: 6
- Extras: Photographs, additional resources for learning about the Holocaust