"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.''