ELLINGTON WAS NOT A STREET

Deeply colored paintings enrich this homage to African-American men who made history and influenced culture, including Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Dizzy Gillespie, and W.E.B. DuBois. Nelson’s setting is a home, filled with the folks who made it happen, as observed by a small girl whose presence, greeting the guests or peeking around the corners, adds the child’s point of view. The poetic text is spare, with only a few words on each spread, but they match the majesty of the scene. Children will need context to understand the brief lines, and happily, an author’s note provides it. In bell hooks style, none of the lines or names are capitalized, nor do they have punctuation. Intended for children today who know these names as commemorative plaques on buildings or streets, the deceptively simple text reveals the feel of the Harlem Renaissance: “Politics as necessary as collards, music even in our dreams.” A tribute to what these men did for African-Americans, indeed all Americans, is soulfully and succinctly stated: “Our doors opened like our daddy’s arms, held us safe and loved.” Exquisite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-82884-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2003

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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