Books by Ashley Bryan

CAN'T SCARE ME! by Ashley  Bryan
Released: Sept. 3, 2013

"This musical trickster breathes new life into an old tale. (Picture book. 4-8)"
It's Anansi. It's Coyote. No, it's a boy wonder who knows no fear. Read full book review >
WHO BUILT THE STABLE? by Ashley  Bryan
Released: Oct. 2, 2012

"Brilliant. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Bryan's Christmas offering combines a poignant poem about a shepherd boy who builds his own stable with exuberant paintings in a masterful melding of rhythmic text and dazzling art. Read full book review >
ASHLEY BRYAN by Ashley  Bryan
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Jan. 6, 2009

"When he concludes, "I've enjoyed walking the island with you," readers will believe him. (Autobiography. 9 & up)"
A joyous photo of the author with outstretched arms on the cover invites readers to join him on a walk through his life, present and past. Read full book review >
LET IT SHINE by Ashley  Bryan
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: Jan. 9, 2007

"Incorporated into these final spreads with the music are concluding illustrations for every song, each focusing on a shining source of light. (Nonfiction. 3-8)"
An extra-large trim size, a vibrant palette and Bryan's glorious cut-paper collage illustrations add up to a marvelous interpretation of three traditional African-American spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Read full book review >
BEAUTIFUL BLACKBIRD by Ashley  Bryan
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"Still, the rolling language and appealing illustrations make this a must. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)"
Blackbird shares his gifts with the birds of Africa in this colorful read-aloud. Read full book review >
THE NIGHT HAS EARS by Ashley  Bryan
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

Every country boasts its own proverbs, but unless US children study a foreign language or live in a bilingual family, their exposure to these pithy sayings can be limited. Read full book review >
CAROL OF THE BROWN KING by Langston Hughes
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

"The deliberately childlike feel of the drawings throws into relief the power of the message, that the story of the first Christmas belongs to no one, and to everyone."
Six holiday poems highlight the universality of the Christmas season with a special emphasis on African-American influences. Read full book review >
I HAVE A DREAM by Jr. King
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

"Adults who heard the speech will experience it anew; children who didn't will be able to place the words in a historical framework. (Nonfiction. 8-11)"
A handsome edition in which 15 illustrators, Coretta Scott King's foreword, and an appended two-page biography of Martin Luther King Jr. create a unique context for his famous speech of 1963. Read full book review >
IT'S KWANZAA TIME! by Linda Goss
HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
Released: Oct. 5, 1995

"The Gosses (The Baby Leopard, 1989, not reviewed, etc.) also include recipes for the feast that follows the storytelling, as well as instructions for games, making clothes, and designing cards. (Anthology. 5+)"
Families and schools can draw on this wonderful, generous guide to shape their own Kwanzaa celebrations. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGDOMS by Walter Dean Myers
ANIMALS
Released: May 30, 1995

"Bryan's hyperbright illustrations cannot hold interest in the wake of the overbearing text; the designwork that appears among the pages comes across as unrelated, forgettable bijouterie. (Picture book. 6-9)"
Harmony has little place in Myers's tale of the antediluvian world. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF LIGHTNING AND THUNDER by Ashley  Bryan
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 29, 1993

"There is one of Bryan's uniquely vibrant, swirling, light-filled paintings on every page. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8)"
A delightful adaptation of a Nigerian folktale about "Ma Sheep Thunder" and her "Son Ram Lightning," who live in a village where the people rely on them to call their friend Rain down from the clouds over the mountain. Read full book review >
CHRISTMAS GIFT by Charlemae Hill Rollins
HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

"A book that belongs in every library. (Anthology. 4+)"
Thirty years after its original publication, this landmark anthology of poems, songs, stories, and recipes, by and about African-Americans, is welcomed back in handsome new dress, with a new introduction by Augusta Baker describing her part in the first compilation, an intelligent note from Rollins's son explaining the decision to retain the original language ("While some...may seem outdated, to make any changes would certainly alter the artistic intent...[The] language does not obscure the messages of peace, unity, and goodwill that still ring true..."), and splendid new linoleum-block illustrations—at once decorative, lively, expressive, and dignified. Read full book review >
SING TO THE SUN by Ashley  Bryan
POETRY
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

"There are some poignant moments here, and some intriguing thoughts, but these poems are most notable for their rhythmic, musical language—and as a foil for the lyrically decorative art. (Poetry/Picture book. 8+)"
Twenty-three short poems celebrating family, animals, flowers, and music, many of them alluding to a tropical island setting. Read full book review >
CLIMBING JACOB'S LADDER by John Langstaff
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: Nov. 4, 1991

"Piano arrangements by John Andrew Ross; notes for musicians. (Nonfiction. 4+)"
In the same sunny, luminous colors he used for All Night, All Day (p. 534), Bryan presents nine more spirituals, linking them with figures from Noah ("Didn't It Rain?") to Jonah ("Wake Up! Read full book review >
ALL NIGHT, ALL DAY by Ashley  Bryan
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: April 30, 1991

"Note on the spirituals. (Nonfiction. 4+)"
Twenty splendid examples of spirituals are provided with simple arrangements by David Manning Thomas (guitar chords also included). Read full book review >
TURTLE KNOWS YOUR NAME by Ashley  Bryan
Kirkus Star
adapted and illustrated by Ashley Bryan
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 1, 1989

"Fine for reading, telling, and sharing; just right to pair with Mosel's Tikki Tikki Tembo."
Retold from Parsons' Folklore of the Antilles (1936), a story about delight in the sounds of words and the warm relationship between a boy and his Granny. Read full book review >
SH-KO AND HIS EIGHT WICKED BROTHERS by Ashley  Bryan
Released: Sept. 1, 1988

"Bryan retells the story with vigor and humor; the brush drawings, in shades of gray on buff, are appropriately decorative, although some of the subtleties of the brushwork have been lost in reproduction."
The illustrator here—who is a professor of sculpture at Dartmouth—remembers this Japanese tale from his childhood. Read full book review >
THE CAT'S PURR by Ashley  Bryan
Released: March 12, 1985

"It's an idea to capture a child's fancy, and touch a cat-lover's heart—with a measured, word-wise text satisfying to read or read aloud."
Or, why cats eat rats—quietly and effectively adapted from a West Indian folk tale by an accomplished compiler/illustrator (The Ox of the Wonderful Horns, Beat the Story-Drum, Pure-Pure). Read full book review >
BEAT THE STORY-DRUM, PUM-PUM by Ashley  Bryan
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 20, 1981

"Pointed up with Bryan's fluent, emphatic woodcuts, they could catch the eye and the ear of a TV-trained audience."
Five more transplanted African folktales, equipped, for reading aloud, with much pum-pum, uh-huh, and a little be-bop, by the author/artist of The Ox of the Wonderful Horns. Read full book review >
JETHRO AND THE JUMBIE by Susan Cooper
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 19, 1980

"The idiomatic speech and other regional touches give the well-made little story some color, though like the jumbie it lacks the fullness of life that would convince you it's real."
"Tom? It have my birthday next week," Caribbean islander Jethro reminds his older brother. Read full book review >
THE DANCING GRANNY AND OTHER AFRICAN FOLK TALES by Ashley  Bryan
Released: March 9, 1977

"And if Spider's still singing then they're still dancing"—but to what beat is anyone's guess."
According to an appended note, this is retold from a collection of folklore of the Antilles, but it would be hard to place as it turns up here—with a strutting young man named Spider Ananse playing opposite Granny; a proper melting pot of crops which he tricks her out of; and his comparison of the dancing Granny to, of all things, a tumbleweed. Read full book review >
THE ADVENTURES OF AKU by Ashley  Bryan
Released: Sept. 10, 1976

"An option."
We know before beginning—from Bryan's past collections, his illustrations, the prefacing Ashanti proverb, and the characteristic "we do not mean. . ." opener—that these are set in Africa and either real or pseudo folk tales; but nowhere does Bryan say so. . . let alone identify the specific culture and sources. Read full book review >
WALK TOGETHER CHILDREN by Ashley  Bryan
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: Sept. 10, 1974

"In all, this is not quite the ideal format for a "first book of spirituals," but Bryan's illustrations have an emotional toughness not usually found in work for children — one which refutes, albeit not very subtly, the misconceived notion that spirituals are either submissive or sentimental."
Stark sobriety of mood and fluid overall design meet in Ashley Bryan's black and white prints which feature African people and motifs, often mixed with biblical subjects. Read full book review >
THE OX OF THE WONDERFUL HORNS by Ashley  Bryan
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 21, 1971

"The simple style, large print, and handsome appearance make this an acceptable addition for younger readers, but there is no scarcity of fuller, more compelling, African collections."
The title story, which also appears in Kathleen Arnott's African Myths and Legends (1962) and is similar to the Irish "Billy Beg and the Bull," is accompanied here by four brief, moderately entertaining animal tales (one featuring the well-known Ananse the spider) and decorated with woodcuts in an emphatic African manner. Read full book review >