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It’s 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. Seventeen-year-old Earl B. Peterson is angry after the Klan bombs his house, killing his mother. His grades plummet and a teacher asks ace-student Shirley Dupree to tutor him. She advocates nonviolence, but he’s only interested in revenge, Malcolm-X style.
Meanwhile, Earl B. finds an encrypted list of bombing sites. While investigating, he’s blocked by the mysterious Four Fingers. The menacing threats escalate until Earl B. finds himself battling for his life.
When Marvin asks his mama why they have to stand and wait to take their food home while everyone else can eat at the lunch counter, her answer doesn’t make a lot of sense to him. “When some people look at us, all they see is our skin color.” Despite his fear of the man who told him his kind wasn’t allowed to sit at the lunch counter, Marvin knows that it’s up to him to make a change.
Inspired by co-author James “Sparky” Rucker’s childhood,this significant story illuminates the tumultuous history of African Americans. Powerful illustrations and a historical note from the author makes this picture book an excellent educational resource on past and current racial tensions.
Down by the Riverside
Sparky and Rhonda Rucker
(old-time spirituals and gospel)