Review: Gordon Parks

Posted on February 16, 2015

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February is Black History Month

black history bannerIn observance of Black History Month, Advice from a Caterpillar spotlights new releases in nonfiction picture books that celebrate achievements of African Americans and the heroic deeds of two Africans who changed the world. This is the story of Gordon Parks who was quoted as saying: “I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand.”

Gordon Parks coverGordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Albert Whitman & Company
February 2015
32 pages

Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, the youngest of fifteen children. As a boy, his white teacher told her class of black children they would all grow up to be waiters and porters. When Gordon’s mother died, he moved to Minneapolis to live with his sister, where he actually did work as a waiter and porter. Photos in a magazine gave him the idea to buy a used camera and try his hand at photography. Gordon’s photos were so good he landed a job as a government photographer in Washington, DC. He took his camera with him all over the city. His photos exposed the poverty and racism that black people endured. Gordon went on to work as a photographer for Vogue and Life magazines. Throughout his long life, Gordon Parks achieved fame as a novelist, filmmaker, and composer.

Weatherford’s use of present tense draws readers into the story of Gordon Parks’ vast and remarkable career. Christoph’s illustrations mimic the style and humanity of Parks’ photographs. Four samples of Parks’ famous photos are included at the end, along with a more detailed biography. Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America introduces readers to a true American Renaissance man.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Peggy Tibbetts

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Posted in: bkreview, book review