Thursday, January 24, 2008
Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2007. BIRMINGHAM, 1963. Honesdale, PA: Boyd Mills. ISBN 9781590784402 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–7]
Carole Boston Weatherford follows up DEAR MR. ROSENWALD with a series of poems used to tell the true story of the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing of 1963. She uses a fictional 10-year-old witness to tell the story of the day that four young girls died in an explosion planted at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Archival photos are paired with free verse to give young readers a true sense of a time they never knew. A hooded Ku Klux Klansman stands with his rifle shouldered while the accompanying text reads, “The day I turned ten someone tucked a bundle of dynamite under the church steps, then lit the fuse of hate.” Powerful, but not overly graphic photos and text are well suited for younger readers, and the subject matter is presented sensitively without becoming maudlin. Small mementos serve as a photographic background on the text pages to remind readers what a 10-year-old should really be thinking about; a heart shaped locket, a Barbie doll jacket, a ball and jacks, rather than the horror that was Birmingham in 1963. Poignant memoriam pages feature pictures of each of the girls who died, with characteristics of their all-too-short lives.
Have students create a collage piece using magazine or newspaper clippings of a current traumatic event and write a short poem to go with it.
Other books by Weatherford:
DEAR MR. ROSENWALD. ISBN 0439495229
FREEDOM ON THE MENU, THE GREENSBORO SIT-INS. ISBN 0803728603
By Tammy Korns