Martin's Big Words uses quotes from his speeches along with narrative text to tell the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. The author depicts his campaign for equality through nonviolent methods. We see Martin Luther King, Jr as a boy and then man, not just a hero. We learn how Mr. King studies to be a preacher and also how he puts his boycotting ideas into practice in Montgomery. The beautiful illustrations will hold any reader's attention.
Martin's Big Words tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr and his quest for equality. The illustrations are beautiful and the words tell his story simply so that any reader can understand, but they are not so simplified to be dumbed down. The honesty of the images and story should be appreciated and this book appeals to all ages. The famous words of King are emphasized while the author describes the situation so the reader understands what is being seen and felt by the characters.
Beginning with the startling cover, which contains only the face of Martin Luther King Jr., with his smile broad, and his eyes crinkled in laughter, this title intrigues. It’s an homage in words and pictures, in which the author weaves King’s words with her own to present a brief but stately portrait of the American hero. Rappaport explains that as a child King was determined to use “big words,” no doubt the result of listening to his father preach. On many subsequent spreads, King is pictured as an adult, and a direct quote is reproduced in bold type. In fact, King’s words were huge in idealism, delivering a message that was big in simple yet profound ways that can be understood by young readers. In smaller print, Rappaport gives historical context. Her sentences have a directness and symmetry that sets off King’s more transcendent, poetic quotes. Collier’s watercolor and cut-paper-collage illustrations express deep feeling. On the cover and final two portraits, King is depicted with a subtle monochromatic technique, which alludes strongly to a stained-glass metaphor, represented in portraits of King’s church. In other spreads featuring King himself, his face is lit, giving it a powerful visual weight and compelling readers to pay attention. While the cover portrait shows his eyes glancing to the side, in the final portrait he looks directly at the reader, his eyes offering an unmistakable challenge. Author and Illustrator Notes are moving as well as informative, and quotes are attributed. Readers will hear his voice echo in this presentation. (timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 5-9)
Martin's Big Words could be easily used for Black History Month in February with the younger grades and readers. The images and information presented are done tastefully so that students can learn about the history without having to understand the grit and political issues of the time as well. For higher grades, I think this book would be awesome to use when discussing the fight for Civil Rights and Human Rights. Additionally, the questions on the author's website could be a good reference point for the discussion.
Rappaport, D. (2001). Martin's Big Words. New York: Hyperion.
Unknown. (2001, August 15). Martin's Big Words Review. Retrieved May 8, 2011, from Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/childrens-books/doreen-rappaport/martins-big-words/?spdy=2001