|Image: Holiday House|
A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech that inspired a nation by Barry Wittenstein. Illustrated by Jerry Pinckney. 48 p. Neal Porter Books/ Holiday House, August, 2019. 970823443314.
As we head into MLK weekend, it is apropos for Fact Friday to feature A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech that inspired a nation by Barry Wittenstein. This is simply a most beautiful book. Author Wittenstein takes the reader to the lobby of the Willard Hotel the night before the 1963 March on Washington. Dr. King is conferring with his most trusted advisors about what to say. They are working in the lobby because his hotel room is probably bugged.
In spare but vivid blank verse, Wittenstein depicts the collaboration between Dr. King and his advisors. There was some disagreement about what the text of the speech should contain. Ultimately, Dr. King retired to his room to write the speech he would deliver.
Jerry Pinkney's illustrations stun. Each spread is meant to be studied, not rushed through. The portraiture of each of Dr. King's advisors are helpfully labeled. Mini-biographies in the back matter elaborate and serve as an introduction to each. Other back matter consists of an author note; an illustrator note; the roster of speakers at the protest and source notes.
I had the privilege of attending a keynote speech given by illustrator, Jerry Pinkney last May at SLJ Day of Dialog. He shared many, if not all of the collages from the book and spoke about his creative process and what he hoped to achieve with the art. Attendees received a sampler that I got signed by both the author and illustrator.
There is no such thing as too many books about the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Make room for A Place to Land. I hope it wins lots of medals next week in Philadelphia for it is truly distinguished.