My brother Martin A sister remembers growing up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Christine King Farris

Book - 2002

Looks at the early life of Martin Luther King, Jr., as seen through the eyes of his older sister.

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Review by Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 3. In this picture-book biography, Martin Lunter King's older sister adds a personal stamp to King's childhood experiences that other books have lacked. When Martin asks his mother why the white boys across the street have been forbidden to play with the King children, she explains about prejudice, prompting Martin to say, "Mother Dear, one day I'm going to turn the world upside down." The richly detailed illustrations capture the times and are striking portrayals of the individuals, with Soentpiet including a note describing his use of King family members and friends as models. The respectful tone of the text is augmented by the large, handsome design, with metallic-blue endpapers and halftone photographs used to accentuate front and back matter. A one-page poem by Mildred D. Johnson, "You Can Be Like Martin: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," follows the short text, and an afterword adds context and personalizes the book. A testament to one person making a difference, the book is intended to be inspirational--and, in both art and text, it is. --Julie Cummins

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Farris's stirring memoir of her younger brother "M.L." focuses on a pivotal moment in their childhood in Atlanta. The conversational narrative easily and convincingly draws readers into the daily life of Christine and her two brothers, M.L. and A.D., as they listen to their grandmother's stories, stage pranks and romp in the backyard with two white brothers from across the street. The adults in the King family-Daddy, a minister; Mother Dear, a musician; maternal grandparents (the grandfather is also a minister) and a great-aunt-try to shield the children from the overt racism of the times; the family rarely took streetcars, for example, because of "those laws [segregation], and the indignity that went with them." When the white boys announce one day that they cannot play with M.L. and A.D. because they are "Negroes," the young Kings are hurt and baffled. Mother Dear explains, "[Whites] just don't understand that everyone is the same, but someday, it will be better." M.L. replies, "Mother Dear, one day I'm going to turn this world upside down." Soentpiet (Dear Santa, Please Come to the 19th Floor) illustrates this exchange with a powerful watercolor portrait of mother and son that encapsulates many emotions, including hope, pain and love. Unfortunately, in other paintings, the characters often seem frozen in exaggerated poses, or minor figures are rendered with less skill than demonstrated elsewhere. These inconsistencies detract from an otherwise gripping volume that makes the audience aware that heroes were once children, too. All ages. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-In the straightforward style of a master storyteller, Farris recalls the birth of her two younger brothers and relates anecdotes that demonstrate both the mischievous exploits of the siblings and the love and understanding that permeated the close-knit multigenerational family in which they grew up. Using plain language, she describes conditions in the South during her childhood that separated blacks and whites- "Because they just don't understand that everyone is the same, but someday, it will be better." From their father's church sermons and his actions when confronting the hatred and bigotry, the children learned the importance of standing up for justice and equality. The warmth of the text is exquisitely echoed in Soentpiet's realistic, light-filled watercolor portraits set in the King home, in their Atlanta neighborhood, and at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The simple directness of this short biography will help young children understand the concept of segregation and the importance of Dr. King's message. An appended poem by Mildred D. Johnson reflects Farris's own message: "-it is important for young people to realize the potential that lies within each of them-." This outstanding book belongs in every collection.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

(Primary) Before there was the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the world-renowned civil rights leader, there was M. L., the boy, fun-loving and often mischievous, who grew up in a sunny, wonderfully supportive household where he found encouragement and understanding. There have been many stories about his life, but none so personal and revealing as this memoir-tribute by his older sister, the last surviving member of the family that shaped his life and dream. Many of the books about Dr. King for young people, outstanding as some are, tend to place him on a pedestal; this book shows why and how that pedestal was built. By starting with early family reminiscences and building to the climactic moment when Martin first experiences the full meaning of the cruel segregation practices in the South, King Farris captures the drama of a life that would lead to the famous ""I Have a Dream"" speech. The text is direct and precise, extended by full-color page-and-a-half spreads executed in a realistic style, not unlike group portraits. Opening pages employ barely visible archival photographs in the background, lending an effect of times remembered to the ebullience of the pages to follow. The brilliance of the illustrations, the placement of the text, and the oversized format make this a dramatic addition to the collection of works for young audiences on Dr. King. With a poetic tribute to Martin Luther King by Mildred D. Johnson, an afterword, and an illustrator's note. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In the years since his death, too many biographers of Martin Luther King Jr. have made him so much larger than life that to the current generation of children he has become more of an idealized heroic icon than a real person. By sharing her memories of their childhood, Farris has opened a window to show Martin as a small boy in a loving extended family, a sometime prankster, protected for a while from the harsh reality of racism. When that reality became impossible to ignore, he and his brother and sister have the example of the strong faith, the encouragement, and the strength of their parents to guide them. Young Martin promises his mother that he will be an agent for change, that he will one day "turn this world upside down." Farris tells the story simply and gently, remembering Martin as her little brother and as the man who indeed turned the world upside down. Soenpiet's (Dear Santa, Please Come to the 19th Floor, p. 1628, etc.) watercolors are both meticulous in their detail and beautifully expressive of the family's emotions. Farris's afterword, graced by childhood photos of Martin, further explains her need to share these memories. A poem by Mildred D Johnson, written in 1968, is included as a reminder that all children have the potential for greatness. A very welcome addition to the King story. (illustrator note) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.