Book Review: Boycott Blues

Browse Inside Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

As far as picture book writers and illustrators go, the husband and wife team of  Andrea and Brian Pinkney have the uncanny knack of getting it right every time.  The text is always beautifully conceived and executed – Brian Pinkney tells a great story in an authentic voice: you just feel that the people and the times have been perfectly captured.
The story is Rosa Parks has been told so often, that it is hard to imagine how a new retelling could sound so fresh and true. Pinkney achieves this by telling the story from the point of view of a participant in the boycott; the personal voice lends power to the story – the reader picks up on the sense of urgency and uncertainty – will this work? will the movement affect change? The jacket blurb calls Pinkney’s writing style in this particular book  “blues infused” which is exactly right – there is that bluesy cadence to the narrative which makes the book fun to read.  I read it silently a few times, and then out loud several more to test run what it would sound like as a read aloud – what fun we will have! Pinkney promises that :
This story begins with shoes.
This story is all for true.
This story walks. And walks. And walks.
To the blues.
…and that is exactly how the book unfolds.

The illustrations by Andrea Davis Pinkney are just fabulous. I am not an artist myself, and cannot even begin to decipher the techniques she used to make each color saturated page sing – but they do.  I found myself leafing through the pages just to focus on the illustrations themselves.

I can see using this book to:

  • launch historical non-fiction as a genre study
  • teach forms of figurative language – metaphor, personification, alliteration and repetition in particular
  • investigate voice and perspective
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