Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Have a Dream

Kadir Nelson.  MLK.  That about sums it up.

If you don't know what I mean...incredible.

I was most surprised to read that this is the only picture book version of Dr. King's speech in print.  When I first saw "I Have a Dream," I thought to myself, well this has been done before.  Then I read that, and thought...wait, hasn't it.  Nope.  Crazy, right?  This book takes on a greater importance as a result in my mind.  

So, let me start over.  

"I Have a Dream" is the ONLY picture book version of Dr. King's speech in print.  The complete speech is printed in the back of the book.  Surprised myself again to realize I had never read or heard the ENTIRE speech.  Once again, I thought I had, but upon perusing and then very closely reading the entire speech, I realize I've heard some of the most famous snatches, near the end of this iconic speech.

Back to the book though.  Kadir Nelson is an amazing artist.  His book illustrations generally feel larger than life and this book's illustrations are no different.  Last year, we did a study of his work inclusive of Henry's Freedom Box, Moses, Testing the Ice, All God's Critters, A Nation's Hope, Coretta Scott, Abe's Honest Words, We Are the Ship, Thunder Rose, and his most recent masterpiece: Heart and Soul.  Looking over his website and all the books listed there, I realize our library has some catching up to do to have a complete Kadir Nelson collection.  His skill is incredible, but I feel like he does faces really well and the cover of this book demonstrates that above.  The emotion etched in each line of MLK's face, the determination, the grit, the passion.  It's all there.

There are many faces throughout this book.  Faces of adults gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, faces of children, faces of MLK's children, faces facing each other.  Beautiful, hopeful faces.

My favorite illustrations are of the landscapes patched together.

"And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.  Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.  Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.  Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!  Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.  But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.  Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.  Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi."

Stunning to see our country's diverse landscapes next to each other as people from each area should stand together.

During our publisher preview at Random House, this was emphasized as an App.  This book is being developed into an app.  So, after having experienced many of Kadir Nelson's illustrations, I can't quite imagine this book as an app, on a screen.  Except...for this interesting tidbit.  They are matching the text and illustrations with the words, spoken by Dr. King.  That should be pretty awesome.  To say it mildly.

Kadir Nelson...golden touch.  The question is not if this book will win awards (though I can't say that it will certainly win a CYBILS) but how many.

I Have a Dream
ISBN: 978-0-375-85887-1
Published 2012 by Schwartz and Wade Books
I received a galley copy of this book from the KidLitCon publisher preview at Random House to read and review it.
I plan to add this book to our school library collection

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