The Cart That Carried Martin
written by Eve Bunting; illustrated by Don Tate
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
*Available November 2013
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This is the humble cart that, not so long ago, carried greatness.
As written in this new book, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted an ordinary funeral. A borrowed cart pulled by two mules carried his body as thousands watched it go by on the streets of Atlanta. The mules also carried the symbolism of the promise of forty acres and a mule when slaves were freed in the 19th century. Crowds either watched in silence or sang in hymns. Two services were held that day, one at Ebenezer Baptist Church and the second at Morehouse College. Thousands paid their respect as the cart slowly rolled by. Mirroring the simplicity of the funeral, The Cart That Carried Martin is a simple text, but that doesn't mean it lacks in emotional power. A somber but hopeful mood runs throughout. People are grieving, but they are also determined to carry Dr. King's message forward. As the coffin is placed in a hearse, someone asks "Is it over?" The reply comes back, "It will never be over. What he stands for lives on." After the funeral, the mules return to their farm, the cart is returned to the antique store, but the message lives on. With their words and watercolor illustrations, Eve Bunting and Don Tate paint a sad, but ultimately optimistic portrait of an historic event.
I appreciate that this text is accessible to young readers. That's not an easy task to complete, but Bunting's text is simple yet very effective. In addition to using this book to teach readers about Dr. King, I think it would also be a great text for teaching small moments. Eve Bunting stretches out moments and appeals to your sense of sight and hearing. You could also use this text to teach about symbols, as the cart carries great symbolism.