a sweet smell of roses
By Angela Johnson
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Study the cover of the book. What do you think the people are doing? Their faces look pretty serious. Why? Do you think they are marching for a reason? What could that reason be?
- Do you think the mother knew where the girls were going? Why or why not?
- Is this set in the present day or the past? How do you know?
- Who was the leader of the march? What do you know about him?
- What were they marching for?
- What does it mean to be brave? Who is brave in this story? Do you think the young girls are braver than the adults? Why?
- What movement do you think this march was a part of? Why was this an important time in American History?
- Why do you think there are police lines and armed officers in some of the pictures? Do you think they expected some trouble to show its face? What do you think that could be?
- The girls do not answer the people shouting nastily from some of the streets. Why do you think they chose not to? Could you be that strong?
- Why do you think the girl’s mother didn’t go to the march? Why did the girls decide to go without her?
- Study the faces of the people in the march. What adjectives would you use to describe them on each page?
- Why do you think the illustrator decided to use just a bit of red on some pages?
- What does Dr. King talk about in his speech? Why is this important?
- What does the smell of roses remind you of? What do you think it reminds the girls of?
- What are issues that you find particularly important? Are there any that you’d like to be even more involved in than your parents? How can you still make a difference?
Projects across the Curriculum:
Listen to some of the great speeches of the Civil Rights Movement. Then, write your own speech about a topic that is important to you. What would you like the world to hear?
Create a timeline of the history of the Civil Rights Movement. List at least ten important events in this pivotal time period of America.
Research other ordinary heroes from the Civil Rights Movement. If you know people who were involved, you might consider taking their Oral History by creating well constructed interview questions. Create pamphlets about these ordinary heroes and what made them get involved.
Study the sketches of Eric Velasquez in A Sweet Smell of Roses and also the works of Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman both artists who inspired this piece. Create several sketches of your own inspired by their work.