Gordon Parks: How The Photographer Captured Black And White America (Carole Boston Weatherford)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Gordon Parks: How The Photographer Captured Black And White America, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jamey Christoph.

Gordon Parks nearly left this world as swiftly as he came into it; the doctor who delivered him saved him from stillbirth. And while his entrance into life was dramatic, being born into the US in 1912 limited his prospects – his white teacher memorably told her all-black classroom that they would be “nothing but waiters and porters”. Gordon was not satisfied with the status quo. Seeing a moving photo essay on Dust Bowl migrants, he bought a camera for $7.50 – the best purchase he ever made. From there, Gordon’s talent was obvious, and he was hired by magazines, companies, and the US government. Gordon used his work to document the unfair treatment of black Americans. He would go in to write books, compose music, and direct films – and it all started with a $7.50 camera and a talent that could not be denied.

Very interesting! Parks is someone who feels like he should be a household name, but is often overlooked in the discussion of great photographers (I encourage you to check out his work, he was astoundingly ahead of his time). While he is possibly best-known for his film Shaft, I like that this story focuses on his early life and work, showing how he overcame prejudice to follow his dreams and abilities, then turned around to use to that opportunity to bring awareness to the struggles of others. The text is great, moving swiftly while still exploring what Gordon’s life and work was like. The art is wonderful too, creating defined, vibrant characters and environments while also interpreting Park’s photos for young readers. As I mentioned, there is a stillbirth shown on the first page, and while Parks survives, it may take some explaining for younger bookworms. The length is fine, and JJ really liked this one. We recommend it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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