THE BOOK OF RHYTHMS by Langston Hughes
Kirkus Star

THE BOOK OF RHYTHMS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Starting with zigzag lines on paper, Hughes's book proceeds through musical notes, the ebb and flow of water, a man batting a ball, and a child spinning a top to show how all the world is connected by rhythm. People can control the way they paint, sing, or move, but they can't control the rhythms of their heartbeat any more than they can help being connected by those rhythms to all the other rhythms of the earth, the stars, and the universe. This message has implication within implications, and that it would be an exciting idea for discussion in the classroom is no accident (Hughes developed the approach while teaching at a Chicago Laboratory School). The new blue-gray and orange illustrations are perfectly in keeping with the period in which the book was first published (as The First Book of Rhythms, 1954); the introduction by Wynton Marsalis gives present-day star value and may lure readers who, ordinarily, wouldn't open a work of nonfiction, or any book at all. For Hughes's teenage fans and adults, what really snaps the book into a different focus is the historical overview of his work, particularly this one, presented by Robert G. O'Meally in the afterword. In a time in which society often looks back nostalgically to the post--WW II America, it's good to be reminded that not even children's books were immune to the repressive influence of the McCarthy years. Thought-provoking.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press