Award-winning illustrator Ashley Bryan noticed that Langston Hughes had written five short children's poems about Christmas--and had translated a sixth "from a Puerto Rican Christmas card." Here Bryan collects and illustrates all six in a beautiful book that will bring out the meaning of the season for African American and other children alike. Bryan has a superb--and characteristically African--color sense, using a saturated palette of ochre, chocolate, russet, and yellow-orange, with a counterpoint of bright blues and greens. The pictures of parents, children, and kneeling Magi are an appropriately vivid, joyful evocation of Hughes's simple cadences: "Three Wise Men / One dark like me / Part of His / Nativity." "They did not travel in an airplane / They did not travel by car / They did not travel on a streamline train / They traveled on foot from afar / They traveled on foot from afar." (Ages 3 to 7) --Richard Farr
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3?In this lovely book, Bryan has illustrated Langston Hughes's "Carol of the Brown King," "Shepherd's Song at Christmas," "On a Christmas Night," "On a Pallet of Straw," and "The Christmas Story"?plus a translation of a verse from a Puerto Rican Christmas card. The poems are simple and direct, celebrating the first Christmas and the place it holds in lives and hearts today. "Carol of the Brown King" ends with the words, "Three Wise Men,/ One dark like me?/Part of His/Nativity." The paintings, rendered in tempera and gouache, are luminous and bright, and add tremendous appeal to the poems. They also extend the intent of the verses to portray Christmas as having meaning for all people, no matter what their race; the Holy Family is depicted as black, as is a young shepherd who comes to offer gifts to Baby Jesus. In one particularly moving painting, the Baby is sleeping on his mother's back, wrapped in a shawl, while Mary looks over her shoulder at readers, cowrie shells in her braided hair. Even very young children will enjoy the short poems and colorful illustrations, and beginning readers will have no problem reading the selections themselves. A gift to enhance any Christmas collection.?EM
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