My sons and I had the pleasure of going to the book launch for author Cynthia Levinson’s newest non-fiction picture book THE YOUNGEST MARCHER (for ages 5-10). We sat as Cynthia read the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, who at age nine marched to protest Birmingham’s unfair segregation laws and was sent to jail. During the reading, I kept looking at my sons, wondering what was sinking into their minds and hearts. My oldest is nine. Could he imagine marching and going to jail in a fight for his rights?
What I did see in my boys’ eyes were questions: “How could this be? How could we let this happen? Why?” And a great dialogue continued in our household.
There is power in Audrey’s story and Cynthia brings that to the page — from the adults’ refusals to protest because of concerns about protecting their families to the innocent and bold volunteering of Audrey and other children to protest and go to jail where reality is harsh. But because the children were brave, used their voices, and filled up each cell, their message was heard and could not be ignored.
I adore this book. I adore the beautiful, hopeful, and lively illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton. I’ve reread THE YOUNGEST MARCHER to my kids several times. And, I’ll reread it several more.
In the beginning scene of the book, Audrey’s family shares a meal with Dr. Martin Luther King. At the table, they shared barbecued ribs, stewed greens, sweet potato souffle and hot rolls baptized in butter. If this book were a pie, it would be my take on a sweet potato pie, which is quite souffle-like. It’s a savory pie at that, with jalapeños added for a kick. (I’m a Texan…gotta have spice.) I used my regular crust recipe, but this time I’ve added a tablespoon of fresh rosemary. Do join me for a slice.
SAVORY SWEET POTATO JALAPEÑO PIE
Crust (You’ll find the recipe here. Just add 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, chopped, when mixing together the flour, butter, shortening, sugar, and salt.)
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1.5 lbs)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 jalapeño, chopped and seeded (or not seeded, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
Boil the sweet potatoes for 40 minutes. Rinse with cold water then remove the skins. In a mixing bowl, add the sweet potatoes and butter; mix until smooth. Add the milk, eggs, jalapeño, salt, and pepper; mix. Fold the cheese into the mixture. Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes to firm up crust. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted and removed clean.