Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Published by Scholastic Press

Summary:  The Pinkneys relate the story of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, beginning with a “Henny Penny Prelude”, in which the fairy tale hen tries to warn of the bitter events ahead.  The remaining poems are in three sections: “Daylight”, “Darkness”, and “Dawn”, in which King’s work is described, particularly the sanitation workers’ strike that brought him to Memphis, Tennessee in March and April of 1968.  The assassination occurs part way through “Darkness”, and includes poems about Coretta Scott King, the Kings’ four children, and James Earl Ray.  “Dawn” is made up of just three poems, concluding with “Rejoice the Legacy” which celebrates MLK’s legacy, including the holiday celebrating his birth.  Back matter includes author’s and artist’s reflections, four pages of text describing the events from the poems called “Now Is the Time” (with several photographs), a timeline, and sources.  128 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  Both the poetry and the illustrations are majestic and give the reader much to think about.  The author’s note suggests that the poems could be performed with the “Now Is the Time” section as narration and adding poems to the appropriate parts of the story.

Cons:  The Henny Penny motif was a bit confusing to me.

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