Sunday, July 22, 2007

22. A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

Nonfiction book annotation
By: Angela Wilcox

48 pages

Nelson, M. (2005). A wreath for Emmett Till. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Author Creditability: At the time that Marilyn Nelson wrote this book she was the professor of English at the University of Connecticut. There is a reference section in the back of the book where Nelson got her information to write the poems in this book. She gives credit to PBS and several books that she read to help her with this book. The PBS website on Emmett Till is also listed for the reader to go to and do their own research.

Summary: This is a memorial to the teen Emmett Till and what happened to him. The poems form a heroic crown of sonnets in which the last line of the poem becomes the first line of the next poem. There are 15 sonnets all together with the last one being a collection of all the first lines in the other 14 sonnets in the book. This form of writing in the book will make the reader have all types of emotions while reading the horrible events of Emmett Till’s death.

Most Important Access Features: This book contains an introduction from Marilyn Nelson that tells how she came about writing this book of poems. The last line of each poem becomes the heading on the next page for the first line of the next poem. At the end of the book there is a page of information on Emmett Till, sonnet notes on each poem, an artist’s note explaining the illustrations, and a reference section.

Description of Illustrations: This book contains illustrations done by Philippe Lardy on cardboard with tempera paint. They are beautifully done with each section depicting different colors that show significance to what is taking place in the sonnet going with the illustration. In the back of the book the artist’s note tells why Philippe used the colors and the meaning behind the illustrations done with each poem.

Grade Level & Uses: 8-12; I believe this book could be used with the upper grades when talking about the Civil Rights Movement and while talking about poetry in Language Arts.

Standards: Social Studies: Culture; Time, Continuity, and Change; Power, Authority, and Governance; Language Arts Standards dealing with different forms of genres and on poetry

Related Texts & How Related: The following books could be used along with A Wreath for Emmett Till to talk about this time period in our history.

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston
Remember the Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Coretta Scott King Honor
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors Award

Personal Response to Book: This was a very hard book to read emotionally and skillfully because of the topic and the fact that it was all done in sonnets. The notes at the back of the book help out a lot with the understanding of each sonnet, but the emotional part of the reading is still hard because of the content you are reading about.


Tassie Rosamond said...

I read and annotated this book too. What did you think of the two page spread that had the coffins on them? I thought it was so powerful that the author had Till's face on one.

Jennifer said...

While I was taking a technology course our assignment was to complete a powerpoint that contained music. A student who lived near where Till grew up chose to do a powerful dedication to him. I think it would be interesting to read this book to see if any of the things that she mentioned in her dedication are mentioned in this book.