Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March
by Cynthia Levinson
192 pages
Late Elementary+

This review is part of the YALSA 2013 Best of the Best Challenge!

Meet Audrey, Wash, James and Arnetta, four African-American children living in Birmingham during the 1960's.  Each had a different life, different situations, and became involved in civil movements in different ways.  They lived through rampant racism and segregation, not being able to even sit at the same counter at the diner!

Follow their accounts of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, plus national trends.  Each has a different view of why they joined the march, what lead up to the event, and even where they were during it. They decided it was time to help change come about, instead of just waiting for it to happen.

This was a great subject, and it was so interesting to see their accounts of what happened.  I really liked how each was slightly different, their motivations to join were different, and their experiences varied.  It was a very strong portrayal of the Children's March, and it helped me understand more about the order of what happened during the Civil Rights movement.

I did like that they used the perspective of children in this.  Children and teens played such an important part in this event, it makes sense to tell the story from their point of view.  Helps children to identify with a historic event, instead of it being so distant and unapproachable.

To me, the storytelling felt a little choppy, jumping from one topic to another.  There were lots of names to remember, making it complicated. Admittedly, that is how history really is, with lots of people involved, but the storytelling seemed messy.  Not only were there lots of people and perspectives, but it also jumped around in time frames, as well.

Overall, this was a pretty good book.  I'm not a history buff, so it wasn't exactly what I would choose to read, but it was still entertaining.  I do wish the story order had made a little more sense, or the telling frame would have been better.  But it did redeem itself in using such a unique perspective, plus a great topic.  I will recommend it to kids interested in history, but not many others.

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