The Cart That Carried Martin

Author: Eve Bunting

Illustrator: Don Tate

Published: 2103

Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing

The strength and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. permeates this picture book about the funeral of Dr. King in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968. Quiet, yet affecting, The Cart That Carried Martin is a unique tribute to the life of a man known world-wide for his outstanding efforts as a leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Eve Bunting focuses on the funeral procession of Dr. King, beginning with the two men who found the cart to carry him through the streets of Atlanta. After painting it green, two mules named Belle and Ada are hitched to the cart where Dr. King’s coffin is placed. Tens of thousands of mourners gather as the cart makes its way to Ebenezer Baptist Church, and then past the Georgia state capitol to Morehouse College. All the while, crowds of people pay their respects by singing songs of hope.


Booklist ** Starred review **

“Short on text but long on symbolic meaning and emotional impact . . . Tate’s watercolors take on an ever wider scope as the crowd of mourners swells, but they’re worthy of careful attention, too, as details of King’s life and work are alluded to throughout. They perfectly compliment Bunting’s straightforward but elegant narrative; together, they support quite a bit of symbolism while maintaining a strong sense of realism.


The Bulletin ** Starred review **

Bunting offers her account of Rev. King’s funeral procession with the assumption that listeners already know the deceased, and viewers then enter the morning’s rituals with the reverent curiosity of a child who senses that something momentous has just transpired. Tate’s line and watercolor illustrations augment that feeling, as he captures in a few deft details the faces of King’s followers who are variously saddened, stunned, or numb.



“Bunting uses simple declarative sentences to capture the sorrow of the day and the message that King’s followers were intent upon proclaiming–his greatness came from humble beginnings. . . . Tate’s pencil-and-gouache artwork plays up the details of the cart and the two mules . . . Adults looking for a title to share with young readers will find this helpful in imparting the emotions raised by King’s assassination.

An affecting snapshot of a tragic day.”


Publisher’s Weekly

“emotionally charged . . .  [An] impressionistic, dramatic recreation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral procession . . .”


Children’s Literature

” . . . Bunting’s text depicts moments of music and of “holy silence” before pointing us to the widow’s “grief hidden by her veil.” That spread contains an image that fades away on the edge of the verso page, as if the funeral itself were an event fading into time, yet resurrected here for us to meditate upon. . . . Don Tate’s pencil and gouache illustrations offer up another transcendent moment in the final spread, in which a single line of text is illustrated by the larger than life figure of Dr. King in familiar oratorical stance. In all, this book is a gift to young readers, providing a hopeful, reverent view of a tragic historical event. ” Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami


School Library Journal

“This beautiful presentation, centered on a humble detail, is a gentle, stirring introduction to what Martin Luther King, Jr.-and his loss-signified.”


Center for Reading and Writing, Rider University

“A good story does not always translate into a good book, but Eve Bunting and Don Tate have combined their talents to produce an exquisite tale…”



Featured in the The New York Times Books




• A Junior Library Guild Selection


Selected for the 2014 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

2013 Blue Ribbon — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2014

International Reading Association’s Teachers’ Choices 2014


• ReaderKidz Interview