Review of Thurgood

Thurgood
by Jonah Winter; illus. by Bryan Collier
Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.
9/19    978-1-5247-6533-0    $17.99
Library ed.  978-1-5247-6534-7    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5247-6535-4    $.10.99

Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993) — who grew up to “change the law of the land” — was a skilled debater and orator from a young age. In engaging and accessible prose, Winter presents the facts of Marshall’s life as if presenting a case in court. Repeated words — “FACT” and “VERDICT”; “JUSTICE” and “INJUSTICE” — mark defining moments (“FACT: In the Deep South, most whites sitting in courtrooms had never even seen a black lawyer”); while the incorporation of vernacular phrases (“yeah, right”; “darn right he was scared”) creates a more conversational tone. To bolster the evidence for his case, Winter shows how Marshall was largely influenced by his father, who encouraged the young Thurgood to participate in legal discourse as a way to combat corruption and unfair practices. As a young lawyer, Marshall sharpened his hurt and disgust about unjust laws into irrefutable evidence to prove that separate is not equal in cases across the country, even though taking these cases put his life at risk. Years later, he continued to break new ground by becoming the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court (“JUSTICE”). Collier’s illustrations, rendered in watercolor and collage in shades of tan, green, and gray, set the scenes and enliven the historic material. The sometimes shadowy art reflects the violence and chaos that permeated Marshall’s everyday life. There are no source notes, but an author’s note presents a brief summary of Marshall’s life and career.

From the November/December 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Maija Meadows Hasegawa

Maija Meadows Hasegawa is a disabled librarian of color who works as the Youth Programs Librarian for the Children's Library at the Central Library of the Boston Public Library. She has previously worked at two branches in Dorchester. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons University.

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