Once upon a time, Larry Dane Brimner wrote a book for very young readers titled IF DOGS HAD WINGS. After listening to him speak yesterday at the book launch for his most recent book, BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY, it struck me that if facts had feet, they wouldn’t get far if they tried to run and hide from this author of award winning nonfiction books. This writer can boast of over 150 books with his name on the spine, but he isn’t content to sit back and count the titles on his shelf. His book launch was held in Birmingham for two reasons: to bring the published book home to the place it began and to research the next book.
BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY by Larry Dane Brimner, Calkins Creek, 2010
The recipient of starred reviews in prestigious review journals and already in its second printing, BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY honors the memory of four little girls and two boys who were killed on a Sunday in Birmingham, September 15, 1963. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church is known around the world. The tragic story of the four little girls has inspired novels and documentaries. What is not well known is that two boys were also killed on that fateful day. Who the six children were and how the community and the world reacted to these horrendous acts are chronicled in this meticulously researched book. The author’s source notes, picture credits, and acknowledgments indicate hours of delving into archival materials, slogging through musty court records, and sleuthing out the most difficult to find oral histories and interviews.
BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY fits into the history of our country between the March on Washington and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. These were dark and troubling times, but the mission of so many did not go unrecognized or unfulfilled. The concern of those activists who put their bodies at risk is that children are growing up unaware of the price paid by others for the rights they enjoy today. How will they know? Who will tell them? This book has answers.
Some books should be read by parents first and then shared with their children. Some books open doors for discussions among generations. BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY is a book families can depend upon to present our shared history of a turbulent time that no one wants to repeat. Readers of all ages will understand how important it is to keep liberties operating by using and respecting them.
Fortunately, author Brimner understands how to keep readers turning these pages of our history. If facts had feet, he’d make sure they wore interesting shoes.
Tomorrow: an interview with Larry Dane Brimner and more about his book launch.