Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round by Doreen Rappaport

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Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round by Doreen Rappaport

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A powerful anthology chronicling the US civil rights movement. Making use of primary sources and with a strong artistic content, it's a perfect choice for reluctant readers of 8 and up, especially if they prefer fact to fiction.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: October 2006
Publisher: Candlewick Press,U.S./Walker Books
ISBN: 0763619272

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In this compelling anthology, Doreen Rappaport completes her chronicle of the African American experience. Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round tells the story of the civil rights movement from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to the 1965 Voting Rights Bill. Inside are the stories of the most famous figures from those years. We hear about Martin Luther King and Rosa Park and the other luminaries of the movement. We also hear about some of the little people, those whose names have not resonated through time, but who displayed immense courage and fortitude equal to that of their more famous colleagues.

Woven through Rappaport's strong and challenging narrative are a variety of primary sources - protest songs, poems, memoirs and even court testimonies are included. These give Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round an authentic air, but perhaps more importantly, a very informal feel. It is very much a text book, but at no point does reading it feel like a lesson. The accompanying earthy-toned illustrations by Shane Evans are equally strong and convincing, conveying menace, danger, fortitude and solidarity to perfect effect.

My younger son is a somewhat reluctant reader. Fiction floats his boat only rarely. I don't intend to make reading a chore for him, thinking it counterproductive, but that home-school reading book with its blank pages sits in his school bag, making me feel under pressure and guilty for not insisting he reads more. I'm sure I'm not alone. Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round captured his interest and held it. He made his way through fifty pages of fairly challenging and sometimes dry text with enthusiasm largely because the first person testimonies truly made the civil rights movement come alive for him.

Interesting text books can be wise choices for children like my son, who prefer fact to fiction. Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round was a perfect choice for him because the stories within it are real and interesting. It was also a perfect choice for me, the parent-trying-to-do-the-right-thing, because the text is both poetic and challenging and the illustrations have great emotional power. Text books which have artistic and cultural merit can prove to be turning points in the literary lives of reluctant readers, particularly when they use primary sources to make a direct emotional connection with the child.

Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round is clearly intended for an American audience rather than an international one. I don't think there have been many changes - if any - for this edition. It's assumed children will recognise and understand the geographic and cultural differences between the north and south of the United States. While this really doesn't matter to the home reader, it might detract from its use as a standalone text book in a school environment. What it does have is a very distinct sense of community and pride and this gives it a strong emotional pull.

This is the third in a trilogy from Rappaport and Evans, the first two in the series dealt with slavery and emancipation. Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round stands perfectly well alone, but it has been such a success hereabouts, I may well look out the others.

Thanks to its publisher, Walker, for sending the book.

Michael Foreman's War Game also makes use of primary sources in the telling of its tale. Kathy Jakobsen's take on Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land melds art with music to great effect.

Booklists.jpg Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round by Doreen Rappaport is in the Top Ten Books About America.

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Magda said:

This is a good one too, especially for the musical ones - maybe bit older, perhaps 10+, though many adults would learn a lot too:

Carry It On!: History in Song and Picture of the Working Men and Women of America