From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In a first-person narrative that incorporates some of artist Romare Bearden's phrases and ideas, and using his famous painting "Watching the Good Trains Go By" as her inspiration, Jeanne Walker Harvey gives voice to the history and experiences that inspired his famous collages. Born in North Carolina, Bearden and his family moved to Harlem in 1914 to escape discriminatory Jim Crow Laws and attitudes. In his collages, which he called paintings and "visual jazz," he analyzed the social and political issues of his time and also related his personal story as well as the daily life of African Americans in both the North and South. Kevin R. Free reads Harvey's fictionalized account (Marshall Cavendish, 2011) of the artist's life with a cadence that turns the rhyming lines into a blues song, its rhythm rising and falling and bouncing along, sometimes singing the train whistles and engines like a jazz tune. The audio version perfectly accompanies Elizabeth Zunon's Bearden-like collage illustrations and text that changes size and color for emphasis. The author's note, which details the life and describes the work of Bearden, is included, but source notes from the book are not. While this fictionalized biography provides an excellent introduction to the Great Migration North and the Harlem Renaissance, it is also a work of art in words and pictures.-MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools, Binghamton, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ages 5-8 Hands aren t known to sing, but in this picture book about the childhood of Romare Bearden, hands take on a new attribute. From snipping, to patching, to painting and pasting, this young Carolina boy finds his gift of visual creativity by using his hands to sing the blues. With a Great-grandma sharing the history of the land of the Cherokees to blues and jazz music, Bearden integrates a little of what he has experienced in his famous artwork. This book gives teachers and librarians an excellent source of the Great Migration North, life in the north and south, and how children can be inspired by it all. Illustrations incorporate collages and watercolor paintings in this biography. Children will stay attentive to the innovatively written text and colorful illustrations. Shiela Martina Keaise, Children s Librarian, Colleton County Memorial Library, Walterboro, South Carolina. Recommended. --Library Media Connection, January/February Advanced Reviews
Ages 5-8 Bearden called his art visual jazz, and this handsome, fictionalized picture-book biography stays true to his rich connections to blues rhythms. With well-chosen quotes (all documented in appended notes), the rhyming first-person narrative in Bearden s voice remembers the people and places of his childhood roots, and his memory whirls back to his growing up in the rural South and then his train journey north to Harlem. Echoing Bearden s distinctive style, the richly textured collage art combines original paintings with paper, fabrics, and photos to show Bearden as a small boy watching trains pass until he and his parents get on a train themselves, and he sees the world whizzing past: A patchwork quilt of greens and gold. The moving climax shows and tells Bearden s approach to work, blending his roots with improvisation: When I put a beat of color on an empty canvas, / I never know what s coming down the track. A lively introduction to the artist for young children and for older readers, too. --Hazel Rochman, Booklist, November 1st Issue