Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Mr. Williams

Mr. Williams

Fall 2005 Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 & Up
Author: Karen Barbour
Illustrator: Karen Barbour
ISBN: 0-8050-6773-6
Hardcover Price: $16.95
This brief oral history - simple and unvarnished - documents the childhood of Mr. J. W. Williams who grew up in rural Louisiana in the 1930's. His outwardly impoverished life was nevertheless filled with rich memories of family, hard work, and Sunday dinners after church. Barbour's naïve style—simple flat shapes, strong black outlines, and daubed colors mixed with collage—suit the text perfectly. Embedded in this richly remembered time is the very real specter of the racism and bigotry (“If you ever saw white people you'd go way around them.”) that was just as much a part of the landscape as the cotton fields and the five-mile-walk to school. Twenty-first century children will be amazed to realize that this story takes place within the lifespan of many of their own grandparents.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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