Elizabeth Bird, librarian extraordinaire, had a lot to say this week about The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch on her School Library Journal blog.
This book has received some great attention, but there’s nothing quite as rewarding for an author as knowing without a doubt that someone has made a point of thinking deeply about your work.
Here’s a bit of what she said:
[Y]ou just have to stand in awe of Barton’s storytelling. Not making up dialogue is one thing. Drawing a natural link between a life and the world in which that life lived is another entirely. Take that moment when John Roy answers his master honestly. He’s banished to hard labor on a plantation after his master’s wife gets angry. Then Barton writes, “She was not alone in rage and spite and hurt and lashing out. The leaders of the South reacted the same way to the election of a president â€“ Abraham Lincoln â€“ who was opposed to slavery.” See how he did that? He managed to bring the greater context of the times in line with John Roy’s personal story. Many is the clunky picture book biography that shoehorns in the era or, worse, fails to mention it at all. I much preferred Barton’s methods. There’s an elegance to them.
She’s just as insightful about Don Tate’s illustrations, pointing out key aspects of them that I hadn’t noticed and am now kicking myself for having missed. I’m so glad that she set me straight.
Thank you, Betsy, for the attention you gave our book.