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BUBBER GOES TO HEAVEN by Arna Bontemps

BUBBER GOES TO HEAVEN

By Arna Bontemps (Author) , Daniel Minter (Illustrator)

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-19-512365-4
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

From Bontemps (with Langston Hughes, The Pasteboard Bandit, 1997, etc.), a previously unpublished story with the sound and sense of a 1930s folktale. Bubber falls out of a tree while hunting with his uncle, and finds himself in heaven. It’s similar to what he knows of Earth, except that angels keep everything scrubbed clean, every day is Sunday, there is plentiful food, and Sister Esther helps him when his new-growing wings itch and ache. In the children’s pageant in heaven, the angel children get to portray people from all ages and times. Bubber eventually wakes up to discover that it was all a dream. Minter notes that the black Southern dialect, which recalled his own Southern youth, inspired him to create wood-block and linoleum-block prints of black angels, not as individual figures but as stylized characters; these are powerful images that transcend stereotypes. The tale itself is a period piece. The apparatus surrounding the story—an introduction by James Haskins and afterword by Charles I. James—clearly explains Bontemps’s life and work, and places this story in the context of his scholarly career as an anthologist, collaborator, teacher, and librarian; the volume may be more meaningful to an adult researcher than to a young reader. (Fiction. 11+)