Books by Joyce Carol Thomas

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"Thomas and Cooper have given us, especially Californians, a moving love song. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Based on her family's move from Oklahoma to California in 1948 when she was 10, Thomas tells of the train trip and her subsequent love for the "Golden State" in poetic language distinguished by strong verbs and striking images. Read full book review >
THE BLACKER THE BERRY by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2008

"What shade is human?" Read full book review >
SHOUTING! by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

"Whether enjoyed as a long-overdue validation of personal experience or appreciated as a glimpse into an unknown world, this portrait of an African-American tradition is likely to be warmly welcomed. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A paean to "shouting," the holy dancing that occurs in some African-American churches, this evocative picture book pairs a free-form poem with double-page spreads in warm colors and soft textures. Read full book review >
THE THREE WITCHES by Zora Neale Hurston
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

"Includes adapter's and illustrator's notes and tributes to Hurston. (Picture book/folktale. 6-10)"
"Three witches had already eaten a boy and girl's mother and father, so their grandmother took them to live with her far off in the woods." Read full book review >
THE SIX FOOLS by Zora Neale Hurston
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

"Whatever its trappings, the tale remains one of the drollest folktales around, and even young readers already familiar with it will be heartily amused by this lively American rendition. (Picture book/folktale. 6-9)"
Richly hued oil monoprints in a childlike style give this Caribbean-flavored variant on "The Three Sillies" a rural African-American setting. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

"Hurston's work merits a less clumsy introduction to young readers, and Mary Lyon's Raw Head, Bloody Bones (1991) is only one of many similar folktale gatherings with a higher chill factor. (Folktales. 8-10)"
A talking mule, a talking skull, a witch who slips her skin, and a man so powerful that he's not admitted to heaven or hell star in this appealing but flawed companion to What's The Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories (p. 331), illustrated by Bryan Collier. Read full book review >
THE GOSPEL CINDERELLA by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2004

"Diaz's use of rich bold colors of purples, pinks, and leafy greens in strikingly patterned illustrations is spirited and beautiful, but is not enough to redeem the lackluster text. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Those who love reading tales with Cinderella motifs will no doubt want to have this one, however disappointing it might be. Read full book review >
WHAT’S THE HURRY, FOX? by Zora Neale Hurston
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2004

"Younger audiences might not know Hurston as a folklorist; here's help for that, in an inviting mix of new tales and familiar ones made fresh. (Folk tales. 7-10)"
Thomas polishes up nine anecdotes and pourquoi tales collected by Hurston, but only recently rediscovered (along with hundreds more) and published in a collection for adults. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2004

"Younger audiences might not know Hurston as a folklorist; here's help for that, in an inviting mix of tales and familiar ones made fresh. (Folk tales. 7-10)"
Thomas polishes up nine anecdotes and pourquoi tales collected by Hurston, but only recently rediscovered (along with hundreds more) and published in a collection for adults. Read full book review >
FRIENDS AND SCHOOL
Released: Dec. 1, 2003

"No one has the temerity to claim that Brown was a cure-all for our nation's ills; perhaps this offering's greatest strength for young readers is the sense that Brown was part of a historical process—and so, now, are they. (Anthology. 10+)"
A nuanced collection thoughtfully commemorates, rather than celebrates, the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Read full book review >
CROWNING GLORY by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2002

"One unfortunate typographical error in which 'berets' is mistakenly used in place of 'barrettes' does not in any way mar an otherwise delightful work. (author's note) (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)"
A celebration of hair, the hair of beautiful African-American girls, is the focus of this collection of gentle, joyful poems. Read full book review >
HOUSE OF LIGHT by Joyce Carol Thomas
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 2001

"Lyrical, earthy prose gives this deceptively simple story depth and richness."
An African-American doctor is blessed with the power to heal bodies and souls: in the first adult fiction by noted YA author Thomas (The Bowlegged Rooster, 2000, etc.). Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 31, 2000

"Cute, but not best of show. (Fiction. 8-10)"
"When animals stand in the place of people and playfully speak their minds, this is what I call signifying," writes Thomas (I Have Heard of a Land, 1998, etc.) in a foreword to this collection of fables set in a barnyard in Possum Neck, Mississippi. Read full book review >
I HAVE HEARD OF A LAND by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 1998

"Cooper's dusty drawings portray both the isolation of the settlers' new life on the prairie, and the strong human bonds that helped them endure; his use of color gives the Oklahoma the look of paradise without sentimentalizing the work such a place entails. (Picture book. 7-11)"
Land was a symbol of freedom to African-Americans, many of them former slaves, who settled the Oklahoma Territory in the late 1800s. Read full book review >
GINGERBREAD DAYS by Joyce Carol Thomas
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 30, 1995

"They heighten and extend the affectionate tone of a text that is full of feeling as it trumpets simple togetherness. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)"
An amiable companion to Thomas and Cooper's Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea (1993). Read full book review >
BROWN HONEY IN BROOMWHEAT TEA by Joyce Carol Thomas
POETRY
Released: Oct. 30, 1993

"A must. (Poetry/Picture book. 5+)"
Framed by two maxims (``Broomwheat tea: good for what ails you...when poured by loving hands,'' and ``...A cup of loving kindness/helps keep a family going''), a cycle of a dozen lyrical poems exploring issues of African-American identity through delicately interwoven images related to the tea (brown and gold: ``I sprang up from mother earth/She clothed me in her own colors...As you would cherish a thing of beauty/Cherish me''; bitterness: ``There are those who/Have brewed a/Bitter potion for/Children kissed long by the sun...''; and sweetness, too: ``Honey's been here long...[but] What if the bees don't come?''), and also related to growth, freedom, and family (``I look across water/And cry for our trembling/Family tree''). Read full book review >