Soul Looks Back in Wonder
by Tom Feelings
For his first full-color picture book, Caldecott Honor artist Feelings ( Jambo Means Hello ) solicits poems from a stellar lineup of contemporary African American authors. The contributors, he writes, ``understand that one way to project our positive hopes for the future is for young people to see their own beauty reflected in our eyes, through our work.' The selections--by Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, Askia M. Toure and 10 others--are uniformly uplifting, with affirming messages about the heritage, strength and dreams of African Americans. ``Who / can be born black / and / not / sing / the wonder of it / the joy / the / challenge,' asks Mari Evans. Drawings of figures stand out against dynamic, poster-like designs in collages that emphasize the ``flow of African creativity' that the artist wishes to share; a note on the paints, cutouts and colored papers (including marbleized paper and wallpaper). The verse was gathered after the art was completed--in a sense, the poetry illustrates the collages. Of special note is Langston Hughes's previously unpublished ``To You,' written for a poster Feelings executed in 1962. Hughes invokes dreamers to help him make ``our world anew,' while Feelings's breathtaking design incorporates a winged figure flying through a vista of violets, golds and olive green. A unique celebration. Ages 7-up. BOMC selection.
Copyright 1993 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Artist Feelings invited poets whom he admired to compose original, short verses for these drawings, with breathtakingly rich and powerful results. A tribute to African-American creativity, the collection should appeal to the sensibilities and imaginations of many readers, regardless of ethnic background. A never-before published poem by Langston Hughes, written to accompany Feeling's 1962 poster for the Congress of Racial Equality, is included. The 11-line piece asks, ``All you who are dreamers too,/Help me to make/Our world anew./I reach out my dreams to you.' Maya Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, and Lucille Clifton are among the 12 other contributors. The full-color, three-quarter and double-spread art depicts children and young people from West Africa, South America, and the United States, but a few of the poems do not speak to young children, e.g., Haki R. Madhubuti's ``Destiny': ``under volcanoes & timeless years within watch/and low tones. around corners, in deep caves among/misunderstood and sometimes meaningless sounds./ cut beggars, outlaw pimps & whores. resurrect work.' That poem, as well as Eugene B. Redmond's Boyz n Search of Their Soular System, will prove more meaningful to adult and young adult readers.-Judy Greenfield, Rye Free Reading Room, NY
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.