Review of The Wedding Portrait, by Innosanto Nagara

The Wedding Portrait

The Story of a Photograph and Why Sometimes We Break the Rules

by Innosanto Nagara

Triangle Square, 2017. 36 pages.
Review written August 5, 2020, from a library book

The Wedding Portrait is a picture book about activism for kids. It’s all framed by the author’s wedding portrait, which was clipped from a newspaper and features armed guards beyond the happy couple.

The author explains things in a way a child can understand:

We usually follow the rules. But sometimes, when you see something wrong – more wrong than breaking the rules, and by breaking the rules you could stop it – you may decide that you should break the rules.

Then he talks about various people in history who have broken rules to stand up for what’s right. He covers Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks fighting segregation; Indian people making salt in defiance of the British empire; the U’wa people in Colombia standing up against oil drilling on their land; a boycott by farm workers of tomatoes; and other forms of Civil Disobedience.

Eventually, he comes to himself and his wife, who met at a protest and decided to get married at a protest against nuclear weapons.

The author defines terms along the way and provides a wide variety of examples. It’s all framed with that wedding portrait, and there’s an epilogue following up by talking about different ways of taking action.

In current times, children may have a lot of questions about protests, and this book beautifully explains why people sometimes think it’s right to break the rules.

I do like the inclusion of this paragraph in the middle of the book:

Now. I’ll bet all this is giving you some ideas, isn’t it? Do you think some of the things that you do when you’re not following the rules should be considered civil disobedience? Do you think hiding under the bed to avoid taking a bath is a kind of sit-in? Is refusing to eat your dinner a kind of boycott?

Maybe. (Maybe not.)

As you can see, this book gives you lots to talk about.

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