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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
A Not So Easy Road: The Story of a Little Boy That Kept His Promise by April L. Jones is about a young boy called Mose Jones Jr., also known as ‘Lil' Boy’ because he seemed too small for his age. He and his family are tenant farmers, also called sharecroppers. Life involved some fun things like hunting and fishing, but also chores that Lil' Boy did not enjoy, like feeding the pigs. After that chore, Lil' Boy needs a long scrub to make sure he is really clean! Everyone has chores and when those are done, they get together as a family to eat dinner and share stories of how their day went. Lil' Boy loves school, even though the teacher, Mrs. Matthews, is strict. The children learn about different forms of government. Lil' Boy is a smart kid and asks very relevant questions that shed light on how black people are treated compared to white people. A frightening and unjust incident makes Lil' Boy decide on a course of life for him, now that he has found his role model in Martin Luther King Jr. From that moment his life is transformed, and his path is set. However, it is not an easy road to travel.
This historical story is written by the daughter of Commissioner Mose Jones Jr., a remarkable man who achieved great things by believing in himself, in the words of his role model Martin Luther King Jr., and in keeping his promise to himself. This is a poignant story that weaves history, true-life experiences, and some uncomfortable social and political truths together in a lovely story format that will both educate young readers as well as show them how determination and patience, a peaceful response to aggression, respect for others, and a clear focus in one young boy’s life led to great accomplishments. The author encourages young readers to set similar good goals, and offers advice, based on her father’s principles in life, to help them see their way to their own success. This is a good story for classrooms and school libraries, and teachers will find it easy to teach kids about civil rights and the right way to treat people with this shining example of one man’s life. Simple, brightly coloured illustrations enhance the narrative and young readers will enjoy picking out other details that add to the story.