Book review: Martin Luther King, The Peaceful Warrior

I am excited to once again participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day! This year, I was delighted to receive Ed Clayton’s classic Martin Luther King, The Peaceful Warrior, updated with new illustrations by Donald Bermudez and a foreword by Xernona Clayton, published by Candlewick Press.

See below for more info about tonight’s Twitter party; FREE BOOKS for teachers; FREE EMPATHY KIT for homeschoolers, libraries, and educators; PRIZES (more books!); and to connect with other reviewers, publishers, and sponsors! #readyourworld!

Authors Xernona and Ed Clayton became friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King in the 1960s through activist work for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1964, Ed Clayton received Dr. King’s permission to “preserve the life and legacy of this great human being” in this book for children.

Appropriate for middle-grade readers, The Peaceful Warrior traces King’s life, work, and death through personalized moments and beautifully painted illustrations. Clayton gently but clearly describes “what it meant to be a black person in the Deep South” during King’s childhood, from “For Whites Only” signs on buses, to policemen who call King’s venerable father “boy,” to a very young King being slapped and called the “hate-filled word” (the book uses the word) by a white woman who thinks he stepped on her foot.

Anecdotes about King’s childhood portray him as a precocious kid who makes mistakes, but who learns “to stand up for his rights by talking his way out of trouble.” After graduating from high school at 15, King studies black heroes, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance, and the peaceful teachings of Jesus. A brief bibliography at the end of the book includes resources for further reading.

As a minister, Dr. King “was soon speaking out plainly against [racial] injustices.” Talk transformed into action when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, sparking the Montgomery bus boycotts. With you-are-there detail, Clayton and Bermudez bring life to the successes of the civil rights movement as it grows, as well as the devastating violence against protesters and families. Readers experience “a time of trouble and terror but a time of triumph, too,” culminating in King’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.

A final chapter describes King’s assassination with mournful eloquence, “the famed, prophetic speaker was now speechless.” King’s funeral is portrayed as a final bringing-together of diverse people, this time in grief: “dignitaries and plain people were streaming into the city by the thousands.” The afterword highlights the federal holiday established in 1983 to honor Dr. King, the music and lyrics for the song “We Shall Overcome,” and a bibliography.

King’s work to improve life for all Americans is as relevant today as it was when The Peaceful Warrior was originally published. Highly recommended as a precursor to or companion with John Lewis’s March.

Interested in more multicultural books? Check out others featured for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Mullticultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press


2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan BernardoAuthor Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne BroylesAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports QueenAuthor Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

2 thoughts on “Book review: Martin Luther King, The Peaceful Warrior

  1. What a beautiful book on Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s new to me and now I want to read it after reading your excellent review!

    Thanks so much for sharing via the Multicultural Children’s Book Day linky and for being a reviewer! I hope you can join us tonight at our Twitter Party from 9-10pm EST. We will be giving away hundreds of diverse children’s books in the form of 13 book bundles. One will be given away every six minutes.

    The questions with the book prizes are posted here:

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