This striking, passionate anthology reminds young readers and adult fans of poetry alike that while black life remains “no...

Timely and thought-provoking, Grimes’ collection transports young readers through the enduring expressiveness of the Harlem Renaissance, juxtaposing classic poems of the era with her own original work and full-color art by contemporary African-American illustrators.

Grimes’ choice of form, the Golden Shovel poem, does the magic of weaving generations of black verbal artistry into a useful, thematic, golden thread. A challenge indeed, the structure demands taking either a short poem in its entirety or a line from that poem, known as a “striking line,” in order to serve as the foundation for a new poem in which each line ends with one word from the original. With this, the classic opening line of Jean Toomer’s “Storm Ending” (“Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads”) is reinvigorated within new verse as Grimes reminds young readers that “The truth is, every day we rise is like thunder— / a clap of surprise. Could be echoes of trouble, or blossoms / of blessing.” Grimes joins the work of historic black wordsmiths such as Georgia Douglas Johnson, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, plus the less-anthologized yet incredibly insightful Gwendolyn Bennett and Clara Ann Thompson, with her contemporary characters and thematic entanglements to bring forth a Harlem Renaissance that is as close to the present as the weight of injustice and unfulfilled promise that they spoke through.

This striking, passionate anthology reminds young readers and adult fans of poetry alike that while black life remains “no crystal stair,” there remains reason to hope and a reserve of courage from which to draw. (historical note, author’s notes, biographies, sources, index) (Poetry. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-554-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016



"Illustrated books are a natural extension of [the] African oral tradition'' of storytelling, writes Caldecott Award–winning artist Tom Feelings. Here, in 64 powerful black-and-white paintings—some of them harshly realistic, others nightmarishly phantasmagoric—this noted artist tells a neglected part of the story of African-American slavery: the cruel journey known as "the middle passage,'' in which millions, perhaps tens of millions, of Africans died before ever reaching American shores. The soft edges of Feelings's art, the blended grays of his palette, do nothing to mute the violence that permeates these images: the bowed bodies of captured Africans being led away under the whip; rows and rows and rows of bodies crammed side by side, shackled together, in dark, filthy holds beneath deck; the agony of a man remembering a baby viciously murdered. Feelings's purpose here, however, is not vengeful but cathartic. Through remembering and understanding the sources of their continuing pain, he believes that Africans can turn the chains of bondage into "spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future... whether living inside or outside of the continent of Africa.''

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8037-1804-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995




Strewn with minutely detailed cityscapes, cutaway views, and interiors, this hefty urban study recaptures the architectural glories of two great cities in their heydays, with as much specific information as assignment-driven readers or browsers could want. In a substantial text providing plenty of historical background, aided by a blizzard of sharp, full-color photos of artifacts and classical art, Connolly (Pompeii, 1990) and Dodge examine both cities’ major and minor buildings, from Bronze Age remnants through the aftermath of the Persian War (for Athens) and the great fire of a.d. 64. (for Rome), also describing government, legal systems, religious ceremonies, theater and other public amusements, fashion, daily life for people of all classes, food, water, and waste disposal. More debatable or speculative reconstructions are noted as such. Equally suited to casual readers or serious study, this takes a giant step past the Eyewitness-filled cheap seats and even beyond David Macaulay territory. (maps, diagrams, glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-19-521409-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998