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Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry Paperback – January 1, 2001


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Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry + Beautiful Blackbird (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner) + Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689840454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689840456
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 7.7 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry is not an alphabet book. Award-winning children's book author and former teacher Ashley Bryan has simply hit upon a straightforward way to present the work of his favorite African American poets: he uses a letter of each poem to organize the 25 excerpts and one African American spiritual. His vibrant artwork, with bold strokes of paint reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh, successfully captures the essence of each piece. "As I read," Bryan writes, "images sprang from the lines of the poets... Finally, I chose the sketches that offered a balanced play of images and did finished paintings from them in tempera paints and gouache colors."

Poems ranging from the intense to the whimsical reflect the diverse voices of poets such as Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, and Gwendolyn Brooks. A colorful elephant stands solidly next to Countee Cullen's poem: "Dear Noah: Please save me a spot / Exposed to the sun, where the Mice are not; / But if I must share my chamber, the Ant / Is the one I should welcome. Yours: L. E. Phant." From Langston Hughes we hear, "There are words like Freedom / Sweet and wonderful to say. / On my heart-strings freedom sings / All day everyday." And Eloise Greenfield chimes in with "Harriet Tubman didn't take no stuff / Wasn't scared of nothing neither / Didn't come in this world to be no slave / And wasn't going to stay one neither." This innovative, easy-to-absorb, boldly illustrated introduction to a rich variety of African American poets would be a valuable addition to any child's bookshelf. (All ages) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4. The alphabet takes a back seat to the poetry and is lightheartedly wrestled into compliance as an organizational device in this exultant celebration of African-American writers. Each full-page entry features a short poem or poem fragment, surrounded by Bryan's vivid tempera and gouache paintings. To make this work as an alphabet book, the artist often takes the featured letter from a word within the poem, sometimes even a letter within a word (for "X," "Without eXpectation/there is no end/to the shock of morning/or even a small summer" from Audre Lorde's "Summer Oracle"). The letter is set off at the top and the poet's name fills the bottom frame of the painting. The selections, many of which will be unfamiliar to children, display a loving acquaintance with poets from James Weldon Johnson to Rita Dove. While there is a full range of emotions, joy and pride predominate. Some pieces will elicit appreciative chuckles, even a guffaw or two. An acknowledgments page lists the source of each selection. This marvelous introduction should inspire many readers to seek out other works by these writers. While the format and the lively illustrations mark this as a children's book, the pleasure that both word and picture will give to involved adults will enhance the shared experience.?Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By maggie@studionorth.com on January 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
We love this book and are purchasing a second copy so we can cut out the images and frame them. Ashley Bryan is a master of art! Bryan uses only portions of poems by wonderful poets, the stanzas chosen match the images perfectly and make the reader want to find the entire poem to read! Highly recommended by this family
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By here now on July 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
The illustrations in this book are so beautiful, words can not explain. It is a simple read that introduces the little ones to poetry. Most poems are excerpts of a stanza or a few lines and the picture corresponds to the poem. Each poem either starts with the letter of the letter is bold in the poem and ties in the picture. For example, F=freedom, but the poem's first letter is not F, so F is bold in the word freedom. Highly recommended for the entire family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 25, 2011
Format: School & Library Binding
According to the Forward in which the author explains the artistic process that resulted in his work, this book is unlike a traditional alphabet book in that it is "not so much to teach the alphabet to the very young, but to introduce a world of poetry and art to all children." Bryan employs a joyous tone to celebrate various aspects of the black experience, using "only the lines of the poems which inspired the images and capitalizing the alphabet letter wherever it occurred in those lines." Bryan's use of tempera and gouache paints in a bright color palette as well as a heavy brush stroke provide a texture and depth to the illustrations that is mimetic of the cultural richness he showcases. The author extends the text with his illustrations by introducing this technique on the title pages where the book's folk art style is used to create patterned borders that are reminiscent of kente cloth and sustaining the technique in his depiction of the subjects' skin tones and the fabrics they wear. The artistic revelry is strictly contained by and balanced within a large frame on each opening that regiments the placement of the poetry, the appropriate letter, and the poet's name on the backdrop of the illustration. Bryan's litany closes not with the letter Z but with acknowledgements that list the sources for all of the poems.
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By Jacki McCreary on January 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautiful images and poems. It introduced me to poets I was not familiar with and included some of my favorites
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By an earful on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very colorful, warm and respectful presentation of African American poetry from different writers, complimented by Ashley himself.
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