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Parents' Guide to

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Powerful poems examine the final months of MLK's life.

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

It struggles to put racism as "kid friendly" but is well made!

age 14+


10+: mild racism

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

It's risky to use poetry to write about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., but risks pay off beautifully in this moving and informative book. The "docu-poems" in Andrea Davis Pinkney's Martin Rising: Requiem for a King set a mood while documenting events. Confining the time to the three months leading up to the assassination allows kids to zoom in on a slice of civil rights history. Kids can piece the history together from clues in the poems and learn more from the book's informative back matter. Illustrator Brian Pinkney used watercolor, gouache, and India ink to create art that feels as poetic as the text. The washy golden yellows and moody blues turn stormy when King is shot.

In another risky move, the text doesn't tie the ragged strands of the assassination in a neat bow. One poem, entitled "Unsolved History," asks the thought-provoking questions: "Who was Martin's true assassin?" "Did somebody put him up to it?" "Is the government the guilty party?" Though the overall subject matter of King's assassination is sad and bleak, art at the end pictures King in the center of a golden Easter Sunday sun, closing on a note of hope. "But in the swill of our tears, we find gladness, too .... His life well lived for peace and good. Martin's spirit -- still alive."

Book Details

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