After reviewing a handful of historically motivated graphic novels (They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, The English GI by Jonathan Sandler and Brian Bicknell, and Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith), this week Marshmallow takes on yet another historical graphic novel. Today she shares her thoughts on the book The Murder of Emmett Till by Karlos K. Hill and David Dodson, published in 2020.
The review below describes some of the events from the book, which are cruel and terrifying, and as such, might not be appropriate for very young bunnies.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you would like to read a book about recent United States history or racial (in)justice, and if you appreciate graphic novels, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): On August 20, 1965, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till left his home to visit his mother’s uncle in Mississippi. There, Emmett was accused of whistling at and making lewd comments to a white woman. Emmett was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the woman’s husband and his friends.
The murder of Emmett Till is a disgusting, horrible event that shows the evil act of lynching. In this book, historian Karlos K. Hill and illustrator David Dodson use the art of graphic novels to tell the story of Emmett Till. After the main story, the authors provide facts, dates, testimony, quotes, and images to teach about this tragic event.
Marshmallow’s Review: This book is a good way to teach and learn about Emmett Till’s murder. This is such a horrifying event that words cannot describe it. Emmett Till was a young boy who should not have been murdered; he should have lived a long, full life. His life was cut short so cruelly, and he was killed after being tortured. The torture and murder of Emmett Till must be taught to future generations to ensure that the disgust and horror we feel never goes away. Only if we remember such events can we hope to never repeat them again.
I liked how this book is both for reading and for learning. The first half of the book (“The Graphic History”, about 75 pages) is written in the format of a graphic novel that shows the events leading up to and after Emmett’s death. This part is divided into four chapters, one on the incident, the second on the kidnapping, the third on the murder, and the fourth on the trial and the aftermath.
The second half (another 75 pages or so) provides a broader context for the event, in three more sections, including a section titled “The Historical Context”, with subsections on lynchings and racial violence in the South, civil rights activism in Mississippi, and other similar topics. There is a whole section (“The Documents”) which includes photos and documents from the trial and beyond. Then there is a short “Conclusion” section which has some suggestions for further reading. Overall, there is a lot of evidence and even more background, which is educational and informational. In other words, the second half is almost similar to a textbook, while the first part is a graphic novel that describes the events in a chronological narrative.
I think this book offers a great way to teach older children and students about Emmett Till’s murder. The horror I felt when reading this book and the disgust of how a human being could do something so horrible to another person was real. This is a book about a dark topic and some of the worst facets of humanity. I would mostly recommend this to older bunnies, maybe 13-14 and up. However, since this is such a huge event in history, it is a valuable book to read and a good resource for knowledge.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.