Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
By Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
ALICE WATERS COOKS UP A FOOD REVOLUTION
By Diane Stanley
Illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef”
By Alex Prud’homme
Illustrated by Sarah Green
Whether kids know it or not, the plate of food in front of them can be so much more than sustenance. It can be a source of comfort, a link to their heritage, a teaching moment, a conversation starter, a grounding ritual, a battle of wills, an expression of love, a trigger of memories both fond and dark.
Three new illustrated biographies of women in the food world, who quietly and not so quietly cooked their way into history, are built on the premise that food has the power to make our worlds bigger, better and more connected.
The most compelling among them, both narratively and artistically, is “Sweet Justice,” by Mara Rockliff (with art by R. Gregory Christie). It tells the story of Georgia Gilmore, an unsung behind-the-scenes hero of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
Georgia, a restaurant cook who marches through the pages clad in a satisfyingly bold canary-yellow coat, turned out the city’s best meatloaf and sweet potato pie, boycotted the bus for more than a year to protest the arrest of Rosa Parks and segregation at large, and before long found herself in the center of the movement, preparing and selling her famous pies and crispy chicken to raise money for the cause. After testifying at Martin Luther King’s trial, she was fired from her job, but with King’s encouragement she started cooking from her own kitchen, churning out food to feed the protesters.
“Georgia’s wasn’t just a place for eating, though,” the story tells us. “It was a place to meet and talk and plan.”
Georgia’s food wasn’t just sustenance for the protesters. It was fuel as legitimate and motivating as their rage and their thirst for justice.
Rockliff weaves this idea through her poetic prose: “Spring had come, but still city officials wouldn’t budge. Fortified by Georgia’s sweet potato pie, the boycotters were determined …….