The Middle Passage
by Tom Feelings
School Library Journal
YA--Feelings's art speaks to the soul in this magnificent visual record of the Black Diaspora in the Americas. Clarke provides a concise narrative of the slave trade, and then readers pause at a double-spread image of a man, woman, bird, sun, and land before the pages become horrific. Guns, yokes, chains, whips, knives--one can see anger, grief, sadness, pain, and almost hear the screams coming from the captives' open mouths. The crowded holes, ankle chains, branding, rats, and sharks swarming around the ship as bodies are thrown overboard all build, image by image, to the reality of man's inhumanity to man. White enforcers are depicted more as wisps than as defined persons, while blacks are primarily drawn with sharp definition. The art is rendered in pen-and-ink and tempera on rice paper and printed in tritone (two black inks and one gray, plus a neutral press varnish). The satin feel of the thick, oversized pages; the black endpapers; the gray introductory and end matter; and pure white backgrounds for the journey itself demonstrate the care that went into the book's production. A powerfully rendered reality that all teens deserve the opportunity to experience.
Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.