Book by book by book 

Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights

Written by Jim Haskins

Illustrated by Benny Andrews

When the late W.W. Law was a child, his grandmother told him that the day he was born, “I got on my knees and prayed that you would grow up to be a leader of our people.” The new children’s picture book Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights (Candlewick Press, 2005) shows to children and adults alike that Law’s grandmother’s prayers were answered.

The understated prose by the late Jim Haskins and the bold, simple illustrations by critically acclaimed artist Bennie Andrews tell the story of one of the most effective leaders Savannah and the south has ever known.

Haskins’ relating of events in Law’s early life makes the unfairness of segregation a reality for young readers. The glimpses into Law’s devotion to his mother and grandmother add another layer of understanding for adult readers, even those who knew the retired letter carrier and much-feted civil rights activist, historian and preservationist.

Haskins reveals how episodes in Law’s childhood led to his leadership as a young man of the boycott of stores on Broughton Street and the sit-in at the Levy’s Department Store lunch counter.

Andrews’ illustrations pick up portions of Law’s story where Haskins leaves off. A department store credit card seems to fly from the hand of a well-dressed woman in a church balcony in spontaneous protest, adding an exclamation point to Haskins’ telling of the event.

If Law, who died in 2002, were able to read this book, he might like best two lines. The first is an oft-repeated quote of his own, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, how do you know where you’re going?”

The second is an explanation to young readers of the reality that was segregation: “Back then, black people weren’t treated as well as white people,” implying that today’s children aren’t familiar with this way of living.

Benny Andrews will sign copies of Delivering Justice on Friday, Dec. 9 at Jen Library from 5 – 7 p.m. For more information call 525-5264.

Golf Charms of Charleston

by Joel Zuckerman

No matter how you slice it, Golf Charms of Charleston (Saron Press, 2005) by Savannah-based Joel Zuckerman, is a book for those who live for golf. But even a reader whose best tee shot is a par two through the windmill at Putt Putt can find something entertaining in this latest offering by the author of 2003’s Golf in the Lowcountry.

Zuckerman proves that it’s possible to be a serious golfer without being grim. The book reveals a depth of knowledge about golf and a familiarity with locales and personalities of the Charleston golf world, delivered in an energetic and often zany style that holds the reader’s attention.

Golfers looking for honest assessments of Charleston’s courses will be pleased with Zuckerman’s book. It’s difficult to be negative about some of the world’s most respected links (like The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup) but when a course isn’t “up to par” Zuckerman is willing to lay it on the line, as his lukewarm review of Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant makes clear.

Although the course reviews are the meat of Golf Charms of Charleston, many of the essays and area golfer profiles tucked among them are side-dish servings that have appeal for golfers and non-golfers alike. Of the profiles, the most captivating are a visit with Darius Rucker, lead vocalist of Hootie and the Blowfish, and a touching account of an afternoon spent with the late Mike Strantz, the “latent hippie” wonder of golf course design who died shortly before publication of this book.

Less effective in Golf Charms are some of the essays; although often entertaining, many seem misplaced in a book claiming to focus on Charleston.

Zuckerman will sign copies of Golf Charms of Charleston at a book launch party at the Driftaway Café in Sandfly on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7-9 p.m. Call 663-7851 for more information.

Hallelujah: The Poetry of Classic Hymns

Edited by Anna Marlis Burgard, Illustrated by Richard Krepel

Quick! Think of your favorite song. Chances are, the tune pops into your head and what you know of the lyrics come along with it, usually bridging to the chorus with “da-da-da-da,” or something equally primitive.

In Hallelujah: The Poetry of Classic Hymns, (Celestial Arts, 2005) editor Anna Marlis Burgard of Tybee Island, and illustrator Richard Krepel turn the traditional, music-oriented focus of Christian hymn-singing on its ear. Burgard has selected 70-plus hymns that could be described as the greatest hits of Sunday morning and compiled them into a beautifully presented, glossy-paged volume of lyric poetry, presented in verse form with no musical score. Each hymn is paired with a relevant Biblical quotation and with historical commentary on the lyricist or the hymn itself.

Hallelujah is the most recent offering from Savannah College of Art and Design’s Design Press, which helps explain the presence of the foreword by college president Paula Wallace. Her essay, “Grandmothers and Grand Hymns,” offers a rare and touching glimpse into the private life of a woman whose public persona rarely reveals a nostalgic side.

After nine additional pages of text, Burgard at last presents “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther, the first hymn in the volume. What a powerful choice for the first lyric — the strength of the poet’s words and his confidence in the might of God create a strong foundation for the collection which follows.

Burgard’s notes on each hymn are filled with pithy details and facts that bring historical context and life to the verses while keeping the focus on the verses themselves. Equally informative but less effective are the pages of introductory text, which provide insight on the role of hymns in religion but front-load the volume with too much academia for a book focusing on the emotion and creativity of religious lyric-writing.

Robin Gunn is a local freelance writer and former local bookstore owner.


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