An urban setting with a calming palette complements the soothing, loving tone of Hughes’ poem celebrating an African-American mother and her baby.
The rhythmic language slowly unfolds with only a line or two per spread. Qualls’ illustrations in acrylic, pencil and collage extend the rich imagery of the text with fantastical qualities that young ones can appreciate. “A necklace of stars” shows mother swinging her baby through a sparkling, celestial, deep purple sky softened with rounded clouds in blues, pinks and grays. The white “[g]reat diamond moon” leads to the next spread, in which mama and child, in a close-up silhouette, “[kiss] the night” amid a burst of stars and with a wavy line of musical notes. This “sleep-song lullaby” is ephemeral, as any sweet song is, but the just-the-right-length note at the end satisfyingly delivers biographical information about the famous poet, while a photo of Hughes as a baby with his mother and the poem’s full text provide further context. This appealing, quiet offering would serve as an appropriate introduction to poetry for new readers since the font is big and much of the vocabulary repeats.
Share with little ones needing a gentle lullaby. (note, further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 2-6)