Books by Gregory Christie

Released: Nov. 1, 1997

An episode from the autobiography of Richard Wright is skillfully fictionalized, resulting in a suspenseful and gratifying story about the power of reading. Growing up in the South in the 1920s, Wright was eager to learn to read, but barred from using libraries because of his race. When he was 17, he went alone to Memphis, where he convinced a white man, Jim Falk, to lend him his library card (so that he could check out books by pretending to get them for Falk). There is a perceptible sense of danger as the librarian (a caricature) quizzes him, and triumph when a whole new world is opened to Wright, who is shown reading all night. While background details are softened and ``colored boy'' is the worst epithet in the book, the book is true to the essence of the events described. Christie's illustrations complement the text; he concentrates on the characters' faces and allows other details to remain less distinct. Readers see Wright's expression change, from when he is alone and most himself, to when he must put on a mask to be safe, to avoid confronting white people. A challenging endeavor, and an accomplished one. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
THE PALM OF MY HEART by Davida Adedjouma
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

A collection of works, subtitled ``Poetry by African American Children,'' that showcases an exciting new artist whose style is unique and fully realized. The 20 pieces that Adedjouma gathered from writing workshops are not poems but thoughts, musings, and statements occasionally infused by a poetical phrase or notion. The themes are arranged seamlessly, and the selections are life-affirming, brimming with self-awareness, and written in a celebration of African American culture. The real story here is the glorious art by picture-book newcomer Christie, who displays a fine-arts sensibility that is incorporated into his illustrations, looking as if the influence of African art has been distilled through Klee and Picasso in the 1920s, with a touch of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Yet Christie's art remains all his own. Elongated limbs and abstract backgrounds emphasize the skill of his portraiture, drawing viewers to the astoundingly accomplished painting of individual faces. His interpretations of the text elevate its feeble nature and allow every page and double-spread to convey a distinct story, mood, or tribute to the culture. With an introduction by Lucille Clifton. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >