ME AND UNCLE ROMIE by Claire Hartfield


A Story Inspired by the Art and Life of Romare Bearden
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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This tribute to collage artist Romare Bearden is movingly executed in a fictionalized story of young James, who visits his aunt and uncle in New York while his parents adjust to the arrival of twins. James is a little nervous; Uncle Romie and Aunt Nanette don’t have any kids, and a picture of Uncle Romie makes him look a little scary. Who will bake him a lemon cake and take him to the baseball game on his birthday? Aunt Nanette turns out to be warmhearted and welcoming, but Uncle Romie, busy with his art, seems a little distant. When the big day arrives, Uncle Romie turns out to be more fun that James anticipated. When James enters the art studio for the first time, he recognizes Harlem in Romie’s collage paintings that he’d previously dismissed as “kinda easy” to make, and he sees one that reminds him of North Carolina, where Uncle Romie also grew up. Uncle and nephew bond a little over shared memories of home, and then Uncle Romie surprises James with tickets to the ballgame. Aunt Nanette is back in time for cake, and by the time James goes home, his horizons have expanded not only in terms of his family, but in his appreciation for other places and for the power of art. So many things at home now remind him of Uncle Romie that he makes a collage birthday card for him featuring train schedules, tiger lilies, a subway token and subway map, and his own painting. Lagarrigue’s (Freedom Summer, 2001, etc.) collage artwork, like Bearden’s, possesses a real feel for the Harlem setting without actually being realistic. He conveys the essence of the place through bits of paper, darkly colored paint, and impressionistically blurry portrayals of people and scenes. A guide at the back to help young artists create their own collages enhances this fitting introduction to an American artist. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8037-2520-5
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2002


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