Sure, there are lots of picture book biographies getting attention these days. Some are written by Cynthia Levinson (The Youngest Marcher, the forthcoming The People’s Painter). And now Cynthia is stretching that genre to something new: A “biography” in verse —this time focused on a place rather than an individual.
Highlander Folk School (now called the Highlander Research and Education Center) is a rather remarkable place, and so it is deserving of boundary-stretching! Its actual geographical location has changed over time, and its specific focus has shifted according to urgency, but it has always provided training and education for emerging and existing movement leaders—that is, leaders of movements. Some of those leaders included those who were key to the American Civil Rights Movement, including Rosa Parks and Septima Pointsette Clark. In the spring of this year, fire destroyed one of the school’s buildings, and white supremacist graffiti was found on the site. It is not the first time the school has been the target of backlash and violence.
Kathy Landwehr at Peachtree, who edited three of Cynthia’s three middle-grade nonfiction books (We’ve Got a Job, Watch out for Flying Kids, and Fault Lines in the Constitution) will be working on Cynthia’s first Peachtree picture book as well. This team is dynamite, and I can’t wait to see which illustrator is a part of it, as well.