Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gordon Parks: how the photographer captured Black & White America by Carole Boston Weatherford

Gordon Parks: How the photographer captured Black and White America
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Albert Whitman & Company. 2015
ISBN: 9780807530177
Grades 3 thru 12
I borrowed this book out of my local public library

As mentioned in the review of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, by 1902 the gains African Americans made for equality during the Reconstruction had slipped away. Though the Civil War had made them free men and women, still, the message was clearly stated that African Americans did not have the same rights, same educational or professional opportunities as whites. 

Gordon Parks was born in 1912 in the state of Kansas. His white teacher told her all-black class, You’ll all wind up as porters and waiters. At age twenty-five, Parks bought himself a camera and started taking picture after seeing a magazine spread on migrant farm workers. It wouldn’t be long before Parks would use his camera to lay bare rascism.

He would be the first black photographer for Vogue and Life Magazine; the first African American to write and direct a feature film.

Christoph’s double-page illustrations resemble a photograph that pays close attention to historic detail. He perfectly captures the essence written in the text, especially in the drawing of the dark alleys where African Americans are living in poverty while the bright white U.S. Capital shines against the blue sky as if saying that our laws only supported white America. 

Back matter includes a brief bio of Parks and Author’s note. 

Park's photographs brought racism to the foreground. He would remain active until his death in 2006. He published several books, and directed the hit movie, Shaft in 1971. 

For more information about Parks, visit the Gordon Parks Foundation. 


  1. Loved this book! It was very touching; the writing was lyrical and lovely, and the illustrations complemented the text so well. I love his American Gothic--so perfect! I somehow missed that he directed Shaft too.

  2. I haven't read this one yet, but it's next on my list. Carole Boston Weatherford is one of my favorite authors.

  3. I haven't read this one yet, but it's next on my list. Carole Boston Weatherford is one of my favorite authors.