by James Haskins ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 1999
PLB 0-688-10259-X Taking a big step up from its glamorous, superficial predecessor, African Beginnings (p. 111), this volume looks at the history of slavery in Europe and Africa, plus the growth and decline of the New World slave trade, with a narrative that is closely based on contemporary accounts and full-color and black-and-white illustrations from a variety of sources. After creating a historical background for the Age of Exploration, the authors explain how the slave trade came to dominate commerce with Africa, describe in harsh detail the treatment of captives before and during the infamous Middle Passage, take up the topic of slave mutinies (including the Amistad revolt), and end with the slaves' arrival in port. Cooper's emotionally intense, soft focus scenes of agonized or downcast captives are interspersed with crisply reproduced, mostly well-chosen art from Ancient Egypt to a mid-20th century mural; back matter includes a detailed chronology to 1808, when the trade was outlawed in the US, and a well-founded bibliography. A strong summary of an epic historical tragedy that is both sobering and illuminating. (index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 9-12) . . . â€”Hopkinson, Deborah A BAND OF ANGELS Illus. by RaÂ£l ColÂ¢n Atheneum (40 pp.) $16.00 Jan. 1, 1999 ISBN: 0-679-81062-8 This fictionalized version of the formation of Fisk University's Jubilee Singers should be packaged with handkerchiefs, because by the end there won't be a dry eye among readers. Taking to the road in the early 1870s in a last-ditch effort to keep their college open, an African-American chorus plays to nearly empty houses as long as they sing "the popular white songs"; when, led by their pianist Ella Sheppard, they switch to then seldom-heard spirituals and slaves' songs, they go on to international fame. In ColÂ¢n's stylized, combed paintings, a golden light shines down on nine solemn, dignified people singing their hearts out; it's a portrayal that is so convincing that readers will almost hear the music. Hopkinson (Birdie's Lighthouse, 1997, etc.) frames her moving, inspirational account as a modern family story shared by Sheppard's descendants one of whom is a librarian at Fisk today. (Picture book. 6-8)
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999
Page Count: 48
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999
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