The Creation / by James Weldon Johnson ; illustrated by James Ransome
by James Ransome
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-An earlier edition of Johnson's fine poem of the Harlem Renaissance failed to find illustrations to match its excellence (Little, 1993). Ransome, however, has given its verbal artistry powerful visual expression. Double-page spreads of scenes from the Creation-light, earth, water, vegetation, animals, humans-alternate with the poem. Displays of text appear on the right-hand pages, bordered with repeated animal motifs. Opposite them are paintings of a storyteller under a shady tree, giving what is clearly an animated performance to a group of children. The intimacy and relative predictability of these scenes contrast effectively with the splendid movement and spacious surprises of the alternates. The division of the poem into pages is well paced, and there is a satisfying buildup to the last spread, depicting a man the ruddy brown of Georgia clay rising from a flowering meadow. The artist has avoided the pitfall of trying to show God at work, while providing a perfect creative stand-in, the benign storyteller. This book combines the sense of awe and nobility at creation with respect and wonder at human participation. It should make Johnson's poem better known, while showcasing Ransome's impressive talent.-Patricia Dooley, formerly at University of Washington, Seattle
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