Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

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Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

Patricia Hruby Powell, Author

Shadra Strickland, Artist

Chronicle Books, Historical Fiction, Jan. 31, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Interracial Marriage, Race Relations, Prejudice, African-Americans, Civil Rights, Social Justice, Virginia, Supreme Court

Synopsis: This is the story about Mildred Jeters, an African-American girl, and Richard Loving, a Caucasian boy, who live near one another, are childhood friends, and fall in love.  Mildred becomes pregnant in 1957 and delivers their first son. and a second son in 1958. They want to get married, but in Virginia, interracial marriages are against the law. They decide they won’t allow Sheriff Brooks and the government to tell them who they can marry. They travel to Washington D.C. and are married by a preacher. When they return home to Caroline County, Virginia, they have to be careful. They are arrested and put in jail. They are released as long as Mildred lives with her parents and Richard lives with his family. Even though they hire an attorney and go to court, they are not allowed to be seen together. They move to Washington D.C. to live with family. Richard continues to work as a brick layer in Caroline County and drives the 90 miles back Washington D.C. to spend the weekends with his wife  and children. After living in Washington D.C. for five years, Mildred hates the noise and crowded city and longs to raise her children in rural Virginia. After being arrested sneaking home, they contact the American Civil Liberties Union and meet an attorney, Mr. Cohen. He is eager to help the Loving’s face each stage of the legal system and takes their discrimination case to the highest court, the U.S. Supreme Court.

What I like about this book:

Patricia Powell chose to write the narrative of this powerful story in free verse, alternating the voices of Mildred and Richard. It effectively achieves a balance between the Loving’s beautiful love story and their determination to fight the discrimination to live as husband and wife and win. The last thing the wanted was publicity. They wanted to raise their growing family at home in Virginia, where their children could run barefoot through the grass, see the stars at night and be near grandparents.

The author and artist craftily weave factual information, photographs and illustrations around the lyrical narrative, which lends itself to “visual journalism,” says Strickland. There are page inserts about court rulings on school segregation; the Virginia state, federal and supreme courts refusal of interracial marriages; and the U.S. Supreme Court final ruling in 1967 to uphold the 14th Amendment. There are news clippings from former Alabama Gov. George Wallace and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a 1958 map showing the 24 states that banned interracial marriage. There are photographs showing the contrasts between white schools and black schools, protest marches for and against integration and equality.

I’m in awe of the massive amount of research that went into this masterful book. Strickland’s  artwork of Richard and Mildred and their family throughout their story is a light and moving  tribute to their deeply moving journey that lasted about 10 years. She used photographs from  LIFE magazine to create her lively and brush and pen illustrations, which compliment the conversational text between Richard and Mildred.

Middle Grade students will find this oversized book a page-turner. Because it is in verse, it is a quick read. It belongs in every school library. It is a beautiful love story and a book full of resources with historical timelines and more information about the Loving family.

June 12 will be the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling by Chief Justice Warren on Loving Vs. Virginia.

Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

34 thoughts on “Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

    • It is an oversized novel, but it is a quick read because it is written in free verse. There are many pages of illustrations, pictures, and documents of rulings that are well done and easy to read. It really is a perfect classroom book.

  1. Pat, I’m so glad you reviewed this book. I have been looking forward to reading it. Such a significant case, and even more significant during this day and age (sadly). It’s hard to believe June 12th will mark the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision.

    • I know you’d enjoy this book — the free verse, illustrations, photographs and over all book design. I can’t believe it has been 50 years, I would have been 16. I don’t remember this story on TV.

    • The Lovings only wanted to be able to marry and live in Virginia, where it was not legal. They wanted tor raise their children near family and let them run barefoot through fields. They wanted their privacy and no idea that they would be changing history.

  2. Thank you for letting me know about another book I’m so happy to know about! I will be sure to take a look. I’m particularly interested to see how the author made it relate-able to kids–especially using the adults’ voices. I imagine the free verse helped connect to the emotion of it all.

    It has such a great topic for today. It is important to remember that some rights we take for granted were hard earned and not that long ago.

    • Yes, the free verse added to the emotion. The story starts in childhood when they are friends and progresses. The overall design of this over-sized book is very pleasing. The author and artist complimented one another. I didn’t remember this case when I was a teen in 1967. But, I remember segregation, and separate bathrooms when I traveled to the south. It is such an important story for kids to know about. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it is a story and it also contains separate pages of facts, illustrations and photographs.

  3. What an awesome book to review! It was such a landmark case, and people forget that not-that-long ago people of two colors couldn’t marry each other. So timely given current social changes.

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