Review: A Sweet Smell of Roses

A Sweet Smell of Roses

Author: Angela Johnson

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Illustrator: Eric Velasquez

Published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

A Sweet Smell of Roses offers insight to the experiences of children during the civil rights movement. In this story, two young sisters sneak out of their home to join the march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They walk alongside tall adult marchers, all while a scent of roses follows them everywhere they go that day. Johnson’s use of simple words that stimulate all the senses paired with Velasquez’s black and white charcoal drawings work together to leave readers with a powerful message about standing up for what’s right. Velasquez implements a dash of red throughout his otherwise black and white drawings to emphasize an American flag, a teddy bear, and the roses which follow the girls on their journey that day. Readers will appreciate the interpretation of these experiences as told from a child’s point of view. This books can serve as a window into the lives of those who are facing oppression and want to speak out. Great for readers ages 6-10 interested in learning more about life for young children during the time of the civil rights movement.

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