Skip to:Content
Cover image for Ida B. Wells : let the truth be told
Ida B. Wells : let the truth be told

1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, 2008.
Physical Description:
37 p. : col. ill. ; 27 cm.
Reading Level:
AD 900 L Lexile
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 WELLS 1 1

On Order



This picture book biography introduces the extraordinary Ida B. Wells. Long before boycotts, sit-ins, and freedom rides, Ida B. Wells was hard at work to better the lives of African Americans. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It's a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children.

An activist, educator, writer, journalist, suffragette, and pioneering voice against the horror of lynching, she used fierce determination and the power of the pen to educate the world about the unequal treatment of blacks in the United States.

In this picture book biography, award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of this legendary figure, which blends harmoniously with the historically detailed watercolor paintings of illustrator Bonnie Christensen.

"Myers's unflinching tale highlights Wells's courage and persistence by using her own words and writings throughout, and sharing the many moments of her life when she refused to accept discrimination and raised her voice for justice" (

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Wells was born into slavery in 1862 in Mississippi. Myers follows her remarkable life from raising her siblings after the death of her parents, to her rise to national fame as a writer and speaker who worked tirelessly on behalf of African Americans and suffrage, and against the horrors of lynching. Throughout the book, her words, taken mostly from her autobiography, The Crusade for Justice, are highlighted in bold text and emphasize her strength of character and commitment to justice: "I'd rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it has done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I have said." Readers will learn that long before Rosa Parks made history on a Montgomery bus, Wells refused to move from the ladies' coach on a train, was forcibly removed, then sued the railroad. Christensen's detailed and historically accurate watercolor illustrations bring the story of this amazingly accomplished and courageous woman to life. An important and inspiring book.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

(Primary, Intermediate) Ida B. Wells's life as a crusader against lynching is thoroughly covered in books for older children, but perhaps the brutality of lynching has precluded her from being the icon for younger students that Harriet Tubman has been. Here, award-winning author Myers recounts her story in a picture book biography. Wells first came to prominence in 1884 in her twenties, when she sued a railroad for forcibly dragging her to a smoking car when she had paid for a first-class seat. Encouraged by the public reaction when she wrote about her case, Wells began writing about the treatment of black people, focusing particularly on lynching. Though Myers's subject is exciting, his tone is fairly flat, but, set in red type, quotes from Wells and others add energy. Christensen's ink and watercolor pictures don't make it easy to identify Wells from page to page but do a good job of capturing the time and place through clothing and other details. With its timeline at the back, this book presents, for a younger audience, an understandable and compelling picture of a remarkable woman. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

In spite of adversity, or because of it, Ida B. Wells served as a catalyst in the civil-rights movement. Wells was born three years before slavery's abolition; when her parents and brother succumbed to yellow fever, she turned to teaching and writing, personally experiencing racism's harsh realities. As a businesswoman and suffragette, Wells spoke against hatred's social and legal ramifications, and her words garnered an international audience when her businessmen friends were lynched. Often, this picture-book biography relies powerfully on Wells's own passionate words to tell her story: "In the past ten years over a thousand black men and women and children have met this violent death at the hands of a white mob. And the rest of America has remained silent." Christensen's swirling lines and colors blend, depicting her subject's determination; the illustrations vary in composition, but vigorous cross-hatching provides texture and mood throughout. The design sets the staunch advocate's quotations off from Myers's accessible account, printing them in a typeface as bold as their speaker. (timeline) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

This picture-book biography covers basic information about Wells' life: her birth in slavery in 1862; her outstanding ability as a student; and her work as a teacher, journalist, and crusader. Myers' masterful text is well matched by Christensen's somber watercolor illustrations: neither soft-pedals the injustice and cruelty to African Americans. Wells' stand against lynching and the peril in which that put her are covered, but there are no graphic scenes in the illustrations. The explanations of some complex topics, such as suffrage, are seamlessly woven into the narrative, while others for instance, segregation are not. What will come across to young readers, however, is how she helped make America a better place. Quotes from Wells' autobiography are placed throughout, and a time line of the major aspects of her life is included. A fine introduction.--Enos, Randall Copyright 2008 Booklist

Go to:Top of Page