This graphic novel, the first in a trilogy about Lewis’ life, is an excellent book. Though the framing devices (Obama’s first inauguration, etc.) come off as somewhat forced, the story itself is compelling. Everything from Lewis’ early passion for both chickens and sermonizing (combined in quite a funny way) to his participation in the sit-ins at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement is rendered in clear prose and is accompanied by appropriately intense imagery. The images of Lewis looking out his bus window as it drove by a white school and his reaction when Martin Luther King tells him he’ll have to get his parents to sign a suit they want to bring in order to integrate Troy State are particularly memorable.
I like that the book does not shy away from potentially difficult moments. The image of Emmett Till suggests more than it shows, but there’s enough present for Lewis et all to make their point. I wondered about this for a while as the explicitness of the image Till’s mother showed the world was part of the reason his case had the impact it did. But this is not that. What’s here is enough.
I also admired how the book took up the differences between the generations involved in the Civil Rights Movement. I imagine it takes some guts to criticize Thurgood Marshall.
I would definitely use it in class, probably grades 6-12.
I look forward to the next two.