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The Word on the Street

News and events about books and authors in New England

A police officer takes away signs from children at a civil rights march in Alabama.

In May 1963, about 3,500 children marched in Birmingham, Ala., to protest segregation. They were charged by police dogs and battered by jets from high-pressure water hoses. Many were jailed. It wasn’t the first nor the last time during the civil rights movement that children put their lives on the line.

How many parents today allow their children to risk their lives in the name of social justice? Cynthia Levinson, whose first book is “We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March’’ (Peachtree), wonders about that, too. “It’s hard to imagine parents today packing their children off to jail,’’ she wrote in an e-mail.

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Even at the time, the notion was controversial. Many black leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., did not want children involved in the protests. And some white leaders, such as Robert Kennedy, condemned the civil rights movement for “using’’ kids, wrote Levinson, who divides her time between Brookline and Austin, Texas.

In “We’ve Got a Job,’’ the story belongs to four of the young protesters whom Levinson interviewed over a number of years. James W. Stewart recalled that the jail cell he was in was packed so tight that most of the young prisoners were forced to stand. “We had to sleep in shifts,’’ he said.

A trip worth booking

Now in its fifth year, the Greenwich Village Booklovers Adventure has become a rite of spring. Alan and Helene Korolenko of Westport are accepting reservations for their one-day bus trip to New York City on June 2.

The Korolenkos provide a map and listing of 18 independent bookstores within walking distance of each other. Book lovers are free to wander on their own, stay with the Korolenkos who point out literary landmarks along the way, or do some of each, which is what I did when I joined their trip last spring.

Adding a sense of urgency to this year’s pilgrimage is the threat of closure that St. Mark’s Bookshop faced last fall. After an outcry from thousands of petitioners, the landlord reduced the store’s rent and wiped out $7,500 in debt. The Korolenkos, well aware that book sales make their world go round, will be sure to visit the shop this time around. Alan calls St. Mark’s, with its eclectic selection of mainstream and small press fiction, philosophy, art, culture, and graphic design, “a great store for browsing.’’

The cost of the roundtrip chartered bus trip, which leaves from New Bedford, is $70. A $25 non-refundable deposit is due by April 18. Send a check or money order made out to Helene Korolenko to her at 565 Sanford Road, Westport, MA 02790. The balance is due May 1.

While the bookstores are the day’s main attraction, trading reading recommendations with other book lovers is a good part of the fun as well.

Coming out

■ “Victims’’ by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine)

■ “Trail of the Spellmans’’ by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)

■ “Birds of a Lesser Paradise’’ by Megan Mayhew Bergman (Scribner)

Pick of the week

Patricia Lyon-Surrey of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vt., recommends “All That I Am’’ by Anna Funder (Harper): “This powerful look at pre-Hitler Germany, with its ‘speakeasy’ bars, free love, and feminism, is intertwined with the story of an underground resistance group’s campaign to inform the world of the coming horrors of Nazism. The cruelty and far-reaching arm of Hitler’s supporters and the courage of the resistors stayed with me long after I finished this book.’’

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.
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