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

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend

Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend

Fall 2011 Picture Books
Ages: 5 & Up
Author: Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Author: Bettye Stroud
Illustrator: John Holyfield
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0763640583
Hardcover Price: $15.99

Young Alex is sitting on a bench in front of the small general store in the poor African American community of Gee's Bend, Alabama. While waiting for his mother, he observes an old mule who has gotten into the garden across the road and is busily munching collard greens. An old woman joins him on the bench and tells Alex that the mule is named Belle, and she is allowed to eat all the collard greens she wants because she's a hero in Gee's Bend.

Miz Pettway goes on to explain a bit of the history of Gee's Bend. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the local Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and encouraged the people to cross the river on the ferry to register to vote in Camden. But when the white sheriff closed the ferry, the mules, including Belle, pulled wagonloads of people the long way around the river to vote. When people who dared to vote lost their jobs, the women began to sell quilts, for which they became famous all over the United States. When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Belle and another mule named Ada pulled the wagon carrying his coffin through the streets of Atlanta.

The stylized, gently humorous, full color acrylic illustrations prove to be a fine technique to display this admirable animal.

Kemie Nix   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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