Martin Luther King Weekend, 2021

ZORA, SHIRLEY & ARETHA

Good wishes to you this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Weekend. More needed insight will be my goal in this weekend’s re-reading of CASTE, by Isabelle Wilkerson, my book group’s conversation this month. I also expect to re-read MARTIN’s BIG WORDS from Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier, which I often shared as a volunteer in K-2nd grade. I’m fortunate that 3 books from my unread new book stack are also part of this MLK Holiday.

They are Victoria Bond’s ZORA & Me, The Summoner, spun from child days of Zora Neale Hurston. Katheryn Russell-Brown’s SHE WAS THE FIRST traveling in 1972 to “Follow the Chisholm Trail” lifetime of U.S. Presidential Candidate, U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, illustrated by Eric Velasquez and also, Katheryn Russell-Brown’s A VOICE NAMED ARETHA, celebrating the rhythm and blues icon whose hits can be sung from memory by me, my friends & likely you, too. This is illustrated by Laura Freeman.

Here are just brief riffs, from pre-reading skims. ZORA & ME, The Summoner. Together, the families of Carrie, who is Zora’s school days bestie in Florida, & Zora, elude white mobs descending upon Eatonville. The pair investigate skin-prickly stories of zombies & grave robbing, leavened by their keen interest in science.  Zora confronts bullies, including her rough and rude but town-respected, preacher Father, who in turn receives her brave spunk:

“You got it all wrong, Daddy.” Zora says. Often after that, there will be a slap.

Carrie says, “A faithfulness to mystery, to strange unknowable symmetries vibrated Zora.” 

This is part 3 of the richly researched ZORA & ME older middle grade novel series, ages 10-14.

SHE WAS THE FIRST, The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm. It is great to learn that U.S. Rep. Chisholm’s child days embraced Barbados in a deep way. I like this found poem from the book:

Shirley Anita

had a gift

people listened

and followed 

“the Chisholm Trail.”

c. Katheryn Russel-Brown

A VOICE NAMED ARETHA. Verses this musical genius wrote include a cheer from 1972:

In this whole world, you know


There are millions of boys and girls


Who are young, gifted and Black


With their souls intact, and that’s a fact!

c. Aretha Franklin Young Gifted and Black

[in lyrics I added a cap. for Black.]

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This poetry post is part of the informal & nourishing Poetry Friday community. The first week of the new year Ruth hosted Poetry Friday, and Sylvia collected us in Week 2 for a wonderful list of poetry books to be published for young readers in 2021. Right now we travel to the bayou with Margaret for the Pres. O’Bama inaugural poem picture book by Richard Blanco and Dav Pilkey you won’t want to miss. After the historic inaugurations of Pres. Biden & V-P Harris, we meet up with Laura. On the last Friday of this new month of the new year 2021, we return here to Bookseedstudio.

Hopes holding & prayers outgoing, the U.S. reaches the other side of Jan. 20th, 2021 in peace.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”