Award-winning illustrator Crews breathes new life into the poetry of the late Wright, who found solace and wonder in the traditional Japanese haiku form before he died.
Wright is world-renowned as a master of language and chronicler of the African-American experience whose works remain discussed and relevant today. As his health began to fail him in 1959, Wright took to haiku as a way to try something new and to teach his teenage daughter about the natural wonders he remembered growing up among in the American South. In her photo-collage illustrations, Crews accents the haiku through the perspective of African-American boys, positioning readers to imagine the everyday sights and sounds of plants and animals, forests and farms through a young brown boy’s eyes. Overlapping images fragment the landscapes but never the humans depicted, underscoring the longevity and permanence of the African-American people. Following that formula, the illustration for the titular haiku shows a young black boy with stick in hand and eye to the sky, which is so many blue squares, white space underneath promising a world without limits. The verse offers a warm natural optimism that may show an aging Wright’s renewed hope: “A spring sky so clear / That you feel you are seeing / Into tomorrow.”
This loving, welcoming introduction to one of the most important American writers of the 20th century centers young black boys as supreme observers and interrogators of the natural wonders that surround them. (biographical note, further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)