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A Sweet Smell of Roses

There's a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice. Inspired by countless children and young adults who took a stand, two Coretta Scott King honorees offer a heart-lifting glimpse of children's roles in the civil rights movement.
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According to an author's note, Johnson's (When I Am Old with You) story pays tribute to the children who played a role in the civil rights movement, the "brave boys and girls who-like their adult counterparts-could not resist the scent of freedom carried aloft by the winds of change." Velasquez (The Sound That Jazz Makes) notes that his art pays homage to Harvey Dinnerstein and Burt Silverman, whose artwork "help[ed] spread the news of an oppressed community's fight for justice and equality." Together, text and art evoke the gumption of two spirited sisters who sneak out of their home one day to participate in a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "After a night of soft rain/ there is a sweet smell of roses/ as my sister, Minnie, and I slip/ past Mama's door and out of the house/ down Charlotte Street," opens the spare, poetic narrative. The smell of roses surfaces repeatedly-as the group marches past hecklers, as Dr. King addresses the marchers, and as the girls return home to their worried mother, at which point the scent emanates from blooms in a window box of their house. Some readers may wonder what prompted the sisters to surreptitiously join the march, but most will appreciate experiencing the event from a child's eye-view. Velasquez's understated, realistic charcoal illustrations make effective use of color, seen only in the red stripes of the American flag, the red ribbon around a teddy bear's neck and the red roses in the window. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

K-Gr 3-This quiet, gentle story pays tribute to the many unnamed children who participated in the African-American struggle for civil rights. It opens: "After a night of soft rain there is a sweet smell of roses as my sister, Minnie, and I slip past Mama's door and out of the house down Charlotte Street." They head toward the curb market where folks, mostly adults, are gathering to listen to and march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Large, powerful charcoal images dominate the pages with particular attention paid to facial expressions. The artist shows the strength and resolve of the marchers in the face of "people who scream, shout, and say, `You are not right. Equality can't be yours.'" Once the speeches are over, the sisters race home and are met at the door by their worried mother, "And as we tell her about the march, the curtains flow apart, and there is a sweet smell of roses all through our house." The only color that appears in this book is the deep red of the ribbon around the neck of Minnie's teddy bear, the U.S. flag, and the roses. Without going into much detail, this book nonetheless drives home the fact that children were involved in the movement and makes the experience more real for those just learning about this chapter of American history.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Powerful and moving." -- Kirkus Reviews "The pervasive smell of roses is an effective metaphor for the scent of freedom in the air, and Johnson's poetic text is powerful." -- Horn Book "Powerful and moving." -- Kirkus Reviews "This book is not only about segregation; it's also about the crowds of people 'walking our way toward freedom, ' the thrilling portrait of Dr. King, and the two brave kids who cross the line." -- Booklist "Powerful and moving." -- "Kirkus Reviews" "Powerful and moving." -- "Kirkus Reviews" "Powerful and moving." -- "Kirkus Reviews" "Powerful and moving."-- "Kirkus Reviews" "Powerful and moving." -- "Kirkus Reviews"

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