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Nathaniel Talking (Writers and Readers) Hardcover – July, 1989


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Hardcover, July, 1989
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The rhythm of Greenfield's text is infectious from a very early line: "It's Nathaniel talking / and Nathaniel's me/ I'm talking about / My philosophy/ About the things I do / And the people I see / All told in the words / Of Nathaniel B. Free / That's me." Her sentiments are equally affecting, but in a more sobering way; Nathaniel wonders when he'll ever be old enough not to have to answer a question "I don't know," and he remembers his mother, who has died: "Mama was funny / was full of jokes / was pretty / dark brown-skinned / laughter." His experiences are warmly universal, as are Gilchrist's depictions of his joyful and sorrowful moments, and both poetry, picture and mood come together in one wistful moment when Nathaniel says, "I know life ain't no piece of pie . . . I know I got to try." Ages 5-11.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-- "It's Nathaniel talking/ and Nathaniel's me/ I'm talking about/ My philosophy" begins a stellar collection of 18 first-person poems. Like Greenfield's Honey, I Love (Crowell, 1978), the collection as a whole characterizes an individual black child through the child's lyric impressions of self and the surrounding world. Here, the child is a little older, his world a little wider. Nathaniel is a confident nine-year-old, making observations about his life, sifting through bittersweet memories of his past, and dreaming of his future. Gilchrist's black-and-white illustrations fill the pages but are so skillfully composed that they do not crowd or overshadow the poems themselves. Nathaniel is portrayed realistically in achromatic pencil drawings with sharp lines and fine detail. By contrast, his thoughts, dreams, and memories are softer, hazier, and more abstract, frequently separated from him by cloudlike shapes or sweeping lines. While all the poems remain true to a nine-year-old's perspective, the mature poet's playfulness with words and rhythms gives resonance, depth, and unity to the collection as a whole. For example, each generation of Nathaniel's extended family is distinguished by a poetic tribute to a musical form associated with their era, from Nathaniel's Rap ("I can rap/ I can rap/ I can rap rap rap/ Till your earflaps flap"), to My Daddy , a poem written according to the lyric and rhythmic formula of the 12-bar blues, to Grandma's Bones in which words and rhythms imitate the sound of a folk instrument which has its origins in Africa. Overall, Nathaniel Talking will strike a chord of recognition in children everywhere, and is sure to set feet tapping and earflaps flapping. --Kathleen T. Horning, Madison Public Library, WI
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Series: Writers and Readers
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Writers & Readers; 1st edition (July 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863162002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863162008
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,670,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ahlsb@aol.com on November 13, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a poetry teacher, I was delighted to find "Nathaniel Talking" at the library. It is rare to find fun and readable poetry about contemporary children that is also honest and serious. I loved Nathaniel! He raps, mourns his mother, views his father as a hero, ponders how heavy the weight of the world must be and still remains childlike. Well, done Ms Greenfield! The illustrations, as in "Night on Neighborhood Street" are wonderful. I hope that the publisher will make "Nathaniel Talking" available for purchase again soon.
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