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Love to Langston School & Library Binding – February, 2002

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School & Library Binding, February, 2002
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Editorial Reviews Review

From one Harlem poet to another, Love to Langston is a tribute to one of America's most talented and beloved poets, Langston Hughes. Written in the art form Hughes cherished most, this biography in verse captures glimpses of the poet's world through his voice as author-poet Tony Medina imagines it. Readers will learn how young Langston was ridiculed in first grade by his teacher who "tells one kid / not to eat licorice / or he'll turn black / like me." In "I Do Not Like My Father Much," we discover that Hughes's father severed all contact with his son when he learned that he wanted to be a poet. There's even a poem about author Alice Walker bringing the ailing poet a bag of oranges when he was on his deathbed. Devotees of Langston Hughes and those who are meeting him for the first time will enjoy this accessible biography with striking acrylic illustrations by R. Gregory Christie. Medina and Christie also collaborated on DeShawn Days. (Ages 5 to 10) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly

Medina's (DeShawn Days) introduction states that his book "represents one Harlem poet's homage to another," and this compilation exudes affection for the Harlem Renaissance muse. The events of Langston Hughes's life inspire 14 impressionistic, free-verse poems. Some entries might be difficult for youngsters to interpret without referring to the author's concluding notes, which succinctly explain the relevance of each poem. In "First Grade," for instance, the narrator laments that "The teacher makes me sit in the corner in the last row far away from the other kids" and "tells one kid not to eat licorice or he'll turn black like me." The notes explain that when Hughes attended first grade in Topeka, Kans., in 1907, his teacher "took out her racist attitudes on Langston." Hughes's love of books, his disdain for his father and the inspiration he gleaned from Harlem and from jazz are among the topics of subsequent poems. Though Medina incorporates some of Hughes's style (refrains such as "Libraries/ are a special place/ for me") and layout, few of the poems build to an emotional climax. The content of the poems outweighs its impact. Still, Medina's solid research and accessible presentation may well lead readers to the work of Hughes himself. Christie contributes stylized acrylics, but unlike his artwork in Only Passing Through, the paintings here do not reflect the subject's many moods. A standout is the spread "Leaving Harlem for Africa," which shows the poet bound for unexplored shores. Ages 6-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • School & Library Binding: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books; 1st edition (February 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584300418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584300410
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.5 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,026,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Medina is the author/editor of seventeen books for adults and young readers, including DeShawn Days (Lee & Low Books, 2001), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Random House/Three Rivers Press, 2001), Love to Langston (Lee & Low Books, 2002), Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature & Art (Third World Press, 2002), Committed to Breathing (Third World Press, 2003), and Follow-up Letters to Santa from Kids Who Never Got a Response (Just Us Books, 2003). Featured in the documentaries Nuyorc 1999; A Weigh with Words: An Inside Look At How Words Create Conflict or Compassion; and Furious Flower II: Regenerating the Black Poetic Tradition: Roots & First Fruits/Cross-Pollination in the Diaspora/Blooming in the Whirlwind, Medina's poetry, fiction, essays and book reviews appear in over a hundred publications and two CD compilations. An advisory editor for Hip Hop Speaks to Children, edited by Nikki Giovanni, his most recent work is featured in the anthologies Poets Against the Killing Field; Family Pictures: Poems and Photographs Celebrating Our Loved Ones; Fingernails Across a Chalkboard: A Literary and Artistic View of HIV/AIDS Affecting People of Color, Full Moon on K Street; Let Loose on the World: Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75; and Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS (Third World Press, 2010). Medina has taught English at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus and Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and has earned an MA and PhD in English from Binghamton University, SUNY. Medina was recently featured in interview on's Black History Month 28 Days Campaign and in Little Patuxent Review's Social Justice Issue, Winter 2012. His fiction and poetry have recently been featured in the anthologies 44 on 44: Forty-four African American Writers on the Election of Barack Obama 44th President of the United States (Third World Press, 2011), edited by Lita Hooper, Sonia Sanchez and Michael Simanga; the 2010 NAACP Award winner in Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems (Sourcebooks, 2010), edited by Nikki Giovanni; and the Beltway Poetry Quarterly. The first Professor of Creative Writing at Howard University in Washington, DC, Medina's latest books are I and I, Bob Marley (Lee & Low Books, 2009), My Old Man Was Always on the Lam (NYQ Books, 2010), finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, Broke on Ice (Willow Books/Aquarius Press, 2011), An Onion of Wars (Third World Press, 2012), The President Looks Like Me (Just Us Books, 2013) and Broke Baroque (2Leaf Press, 2013). Featured in the documentary, Sheer Good Fortune: Celebrating Toni Morrison, in 2013, Medina was awarded both The Langston Hughes Society Award and the first African Voices Literary Award.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on March 19, 2002
Format: School & Library Binding
Meet James Langston Hughes in a unique and entertaining biography that brings this great poet of the Harlem Renaissance to life. Written in free verse, Tony Medina's fourteen poems follow Langston from his boyhood in Kansas marked by racism and poverty, to his trips to Africa and around the world, and finally to life in his beloved Harlem..."Harlem is the capital of my world/black and beautiful and bruised/like me..." Mr Medina's simple, yet powerful poems speak volumes, and are full of energy, rhythm, wisdom, and truth. "In Topeka, Kansas/the teacher makes me sit/in the corner/in the last row/far away from/the other kids// She rolls her eyes/and sucks her teeth/with heavy heavy sighs/and lies and lies// She tells one kid/not to eat licorice/or he'll turn black/like me// When Mama finds out/she takes me out of school/she rolls her eyes/and sucks her teeth/with heavy heavy sighs// And why why why" R. Gregory Christie's expressive, bold, and riveting illustrations complement each poem beautifully, and draw the reader into the world Langston Hughes loved and remembered. Together word and art present an engaging and evocative tribute to a remarkable and vibrant man who loved people, books, and jazz. This is much more than a creative and innovative biography, it's a labor of love. Perfect for youngsters 7 and older, Mr Medina includes notes, details, and insight to help flesh out, complete, and enrich these original poems about Langston Hughes' life, and introduce Hughes and his work to a whole new generation. This engaging biography is sure to whet the appetite of both young and old alike, and send you out looking for more. So come celebrate the life of Langston Hughes on what would have been his one hundredth birthday...Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By mcHaiku on March 6, 2005
Format: School & Library Binding
Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902 (in Joplin MO), and his centennial was celebrated with the publication of books honoring his poetry & life, including "Langston Hughes, an American Poet" by Alice Walker . . . & also, "Love to Langston" by Tony Medina.

For this book the author writes poems in a style similar to Hughes' - - each being biographical. These are followed by three pages of helpful notes. Some of the dates make for surprises: In 1914 Hughes protested against "JIM CROW SEATING" in his 7th grade! In 1923 he began an odyssey to learn about the world firsthand, starting with Africa: "going around the world digging life, . . mining for riches" by observing people.

His poetry was influenced by Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, but also by the rhythms of jazz. "Jazz makes me sing - - the blues makes me feel . . . a whole lot better . . . hits my heart in the funny bone." The bold colorful illustrations by Gregory Christie are a happy choice and complement Medina's hopeful text. This happened, too, with the 1982 "Langston, A Play by Ossie Davis" for which Jerry Pinkney illustrated the cover.

In the 1950s the specter of Senator Joseph McCarthy threatened Hughes' ability to earn a living. He was quite ill in 1967 when "dear sweet Alice (Walker)" one of the young authors inspired by his works, visited him: " ... she brings me oranges like a bag of sun." The sun can also shine into your heart through reading Langston Hughes' poetry, suggests REVIEWER mcHAIKU.
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Format: Paperback
Upon opening this exciting book,I was drawn into the bright colors and the words that were simple, yet quite powerful. As an elementary school teacher, I was looking for poetry to share with my students that was beyond the same few it seems they see year after year during February. This fit the bill perfectly. It was language my children could relate to, yet it showed some insight into important issues such as racism, segregation, and slavery. The added bonus for me was the additional text about how each poem related to Langston Hughes' life. In the book, Mr. Medina mentions that as a child, he opened one of Langston Hughes' books of poetry and saw his photograph. Not only was he moved by his work, he was pleasantly surprised and inspired because he saw an artist of color in a published work for the first time. Since then, he has been inspired to create poetry. Tony Medina has given us a beautiful tribute to Mr. Hughes as well as fresh poems for new generation!
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