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The people could fly

by Virginia Hamilton


Publishers Weekly :

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Three winners of multiple honors have created this incomparable book. The Dillons illustrate Hamilton's 24 stories with marvelous pictures alive with the spirit of each: sly humor, mystery, pathos and, most powerfully, the human need for freedom. In the author's introduction and notes, we find information on black history, on the original slave storytellers``voices from the past'that include her own ancestors. The stories are given full effect by Hamilton's use of colloquial language, evoking the artless entertainer relating the exploits of ``Bruh Rabbit' and other animal tricksters. The reader's emotional response, however, is to the artists' depictions and the author's narrative in ``The People Could Fly.' They are the slaves from Gulla who, according to legend, escape the master's abuse one day. ``They rose on the air. Say they flew away to Free-dom.' (All ages).

Copyright 1985 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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School Library Journal :

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Gr 4-7 The well-known author here retells 24 black American folk tales in sure storytelling voice. In four groupings she presents seven animal tales (including a tar-baby variant); six fanciful ones (including ``Wiley, His Mama, and the Hairy Man' and a tale of which Harper's Gunniwulf Dutton, 1967 is a variant); five supernatural tales (including variants of the Tailypo, John and the Deviland a wild cautionary tale, ``Little Eight John'); and finally, six slave tales of freedom, closing with the moving title story. Depending on the sources, some of the tales use a modified dialect for flavor; one told with quite a few words of Gullah dialect has a glossary. All are beautifully readable. The book has a bibliography, and comments follow each tale, including one personal note of a family account involving one of her grandfathers. Two other collections of black folk tales, Courlander's Terrapin's Pot of Sense (Holt, 1957; o.p.) and Faulkner's The Days When the Animals Talked (Follett, 1977; o.p.) are both out of print. With the added attraction of 40 bordered full- and half-page illustrations by the Dillonswonderfully expressive paintings reproduced in black and whitethis collection should be snapped up. Ruth M. McConnell, San Antonio Public Library

Copyright 1985 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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