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THE PEOPLE COULD FLY by Virginia Hamilton Kirkus Star


The Picture Book

by Virginia Hamilton & illustrated by Leo Dillon & Diane Dillon

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 2004
ISBN: 0-375-82405-7
Publisher: Knopf

“They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like climbin up on a gate.” Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales (1985) won a Coretta Scott King Award, and the Dillons here reissue its heartbreaking title story with gorgeous, all-new, full-color paintings. Legend has it that some people in Africa could fly, but when they were shipped to America as slaves, they shed their black, shiny wings (reflected as feathers on the glossy black endpapers). When a mother and her baby are brutally whipped in the cotton fields, an old slave resurrects his magic and helps her and others fly away, free as birds, leaving the non-magical slaves behind to tell the tale. Like the story, the paintings are both hopeful and somber, and the slaves are as graceful and softly luminous as the slave owners are stiff, pinched, and cruel. A dreamy, powerful picture-book tribute to both Hamilton and the generations-old story. (Picture book. 9-12)