March, Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

marchLynn:  This has been terrific summer for graphic novel fans.  I’m happy to write about another especially noteworthy book that published Aug. 13th, March, Book One (Top Shelf 2013) written by the Civil Rights hero, now Congressman John Lewis, his aid Andrew Aydin and Eisner-winning artist Nate Powell.  This is the story of Lewis’ early life and work, and his dedication to the  non-violent movement to overcome  segregation and discrimination.

The dynamic structure of the book reflects the pivotal events of Lewis’ life.  A prologue opens with the brutal Bloody Sunday confrontation in Selma, Alababama, March 1965 and then the story jumps to President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, where Lewis relates his story to young boys visiting his congressional office.  This device propels the plot, allows the introduction of historical information for young readers and underscores just how dramatically things have changed during Lewis’ lifetime.  The story is full of warm personal moments like Lewis’ childhood love of the family’s chickens as well as his dramatic nation-altering involvement in the civil rights struggle.  I loved the fascinating tidbits that added such authenticity to the story like the comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story that inspired Lewis and others or the story of Lewis’ trip north one summer with his uncle.  This is one of three proposed volumes and is a not-to-be-missed front row seat on one of the most important times in American history.

Cindy: Yesterday’s 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington served as a great backdrop to finish reading this graphic novel. This week has been a busy week of back-to-school marathon professional development sessions, evening parent open house and busy classroom/library prep. The real focus of the week for me is the challenge from our keynote speaker Dr. Lourdes Ferrer to improve achievement with our Hispanic and African American students. We can do better. We must do better.

Nate Powell‘s illustrations are powerful and unflinching and will bring this history to life for many young people. Those of us who know the history will still learn new things and will see the history through the man who has a unique role:  “Of everyone who spoke at the march, I’m the only one who’s still around.” Lewis’s story, Aydin’s writing, and Powell’s illustrations combine to make this one of the best graphic novels of the year and one of the best graphical histories we’ve seen yet. As Lynn urges, don’t miss it.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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