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A Sweet Smell of Roses
Contributor(s): Johnson, Angela, Velasquez, Eric (Illustrator)
ISBN: 0689832524     ISBN-13: 9780689832529
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    OUR PRICE: $17.99  
Product Type: School And Library - Other Formats
Published: November 2004
Annotation: Two Coretta Scott King Award winners celebrate the participation of children during the civil rights movement with this story of two young girls who sneak out of their house at night to go across town where men and women gather for a march for justice. Full color.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Civil rights movements; Fiction.
African Americans; Fiction.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Prejudice & Racism
Dewey: [E]
LCCN: 2005295419
Lexile Measure: 710
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 3-4, Age 8-9
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 11.00" H x 10.00" W x 0.50" (1.05 lbs) 32 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 84099
Reading Level: 3.0   Interest Level: Lower Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
There's a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice.

Inspired by the countless young people who took a stand against the forces of injustice, two Coretta Scott King Honorees, Angela Johnson and Eric Velasquez, offer a stirring yet jubilant glimpse of the youth involvement that played an invaluable role in the Civil Rights movement.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall)
The young black narrator and her little sister join a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The poetic text is powerful, but the improbability of the girls' blithely unchaperoned participation undercuts the tension of the actual events. Velasquez's illustrations capture the emotion of the march, but the girls' central role (they march in front with Dr. King) feels artificial. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #1)
Two new picture books set in the civil rights-, protest-era South: one is romanticized idealism, the other child's-eye-view realism. Johnson's A Sweet Smell of Roses is a poetic evocation of a 1960s freedom march. The young black narrator and her little sister dash out of the house one morning and join a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the day -- listening to speeches, marching, enduring harassment from onlookers -- they smell roses. Then, singing freedom songs, the two skip home. The pervasive smell of roses is an effective metaphor for the scent of freedom in the air, and Johnson's poetic text is powerful. But in attempting to reflect a universal experience, the story becomes too generic, and the girls' blithely unchaperoned participation undercuts the tension and danger of the actual events. Velasquez's red-accented pencil illustrations capture the sweep and emotion of the march, although the girls' central role (they march in the front row with Dr. King) feels artificial. Much more successful is Weatherford's Freedom on the Menu, an account of the 1960 sit-ins at the segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, from the perspective of eight-year-old Connie. The text -- full of detail and lively dialogue -- moves along smartly, taking readers from the first protests to the eventual integration of the lunch counter. Connie, unlike her older siblings, is mostly an observer, but the author manages to hold true to her experience without sacrificing content or veracity. Humor occasionally lightens the mood, as when, after Brother has announced that he's joining the sit-ins, and Sister that she intends to picket downtown, Connie says, "I want to go, too.... I'm plenty big enough to hold a sign, and I know I can sit." Readers will cheer when Connie, so long denied a banana split at the lunch counter, is finally served one with "an extra cherry on a mound of whipped cream." Lagarrigue's somber, impressionistic oils lend the story dignity and weight. [Review covers these titles: A Sweet Smell of Roses and Freedom on the Menu.] Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2005 January #1)
According to an author's note, Johnson's (When I Am Old with You) story pays tribute to the children who played a role in the civil rights movement, the "brave boys and girls who-like their adult counterparts-could not resist the scent of freedom carried aloft by the winds of change." Velasquez (The Sound That Jazz Makes) notes that his art pays homage to Harvey Dinnerstein and Burt Silverman, whose artwork "help[ed] spread the news of an oppressed community's fight for justice and equality." Together, text and art evoke the gumption of two spirited sisters who sneak out of their home one day to participate in a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "After a night of soft rain/ there is a sweet smell of roses/ as my sister, Minnie, and I slip/ past Mama's door and out of the house/ down Charlotte Street," opens the spare, poetic narrative. The smell of roses surfaces repeatedly-as the group marches past hecklers, as Dr. King addresses the marchers, and as the girls return home to their worried mother, at which point the scent emanates from blooms in a window box of their house. Some readers may wonder what prompted the sisters to surreptitiously join the march, but most will appreciate experiencing the event from a child's eye-view. Velasquez's understated, realistic charcoal illustrations make effective use of color, seen only in the red stripes of the American flag, the red ribbon around a teddy bear's neck and the red roses in the window. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2005 March)
K-Gr 3-This quiet, gentle story pays tribute to the many unnamed children who participated in the African-American struggle for civil rights. It opens: "After a night of soft rain there is a sweet smell of roses as my sister, Minnie, and I slip past Mama's door and out of the house down Charlotte Street." They head toward the curb market where folks, mostly adults, are gathering to listen to and march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Large, powerful charcoal images dominate the pages with particular attention paid to facial expressions. The artist shows the strength and resolve of the marchers in the face of "people who scream, shout, and say, `You are not right. Equality can't be yours.'" Once the speeches are over, the sisters race home and are met at the door by their worried mother, "And as we tell her about the march, the curtains flow apart, and there is a sweet smell of roses all through our house." The only color that appears in this book is the deep red of the ribbon around the neck of Minnie's teddy bear, the U.S. flag, and the roses. Without going into much detail, this book nonetheless drives home the fact that children were involved in the movement and makes the experience more real for those just learning about this chapter of American history.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.