Harlem Airlines flies a boy and his uncle back in time to a fanciful grand parade on Seventh Avenue, where they meet and greet a star-studded lineup of African-American luminaries.
After a breakfast of “the best fried chicken and waffles this side of heaven” (at the legendary Well’s Restaurant), the boy is on the lookout for Langston Hughes, his favorite poet. Marcus Garvey passes by, as does W.E.B. Du Bois. There’s a visit to the Africana Art Gallery, Madame C.J. Walker’s Beauty School and the Harlem Opera House, where they have a conversation with Paul Robeson. Florence Mills and Josephine Baker represent those who achieved fame overseas. At the Schomburg Library, they hear Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, who recites “My People.” A party at the Savoy with performances by Fletcher Henderson’s band, Satchmo and Coleman Hawkins is a festive finale. On the flight home, the boy reiterates his racial pride and determination to write. Ringgold has a sure hand as she delivers her message and even references her own Aunt Connie’s Dinner Party (1993). The acrylic paintings on textured canvas feature elongated figures that are boldly colored in all the primary hues. Her decision to depict her proud protagonist as light-skinned, red-haired and blue-eyed is an eloquent statement all by itself.
Black pride is strong in this homage. (Harlem Renaissance glossary, further reading) (Picture book. 4-7)