From School Library Journal
Grade 2-6-The Gullahs are a unique group of African Americans who live mainly on islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Because of their isolation, they have kept their musical language alive-described as "a blend of English and African pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary." This book offers a set of poems-one for each month-couched in the language of the Gullah. Each spread has one short poem, enhanced by a stunning linoleum-block print, using black silhouettes and bright color. "In September month,/the gal child put back on 'e shoes/and wait for the yellow big bus/with new ribbons in 'e hair./Now, the ground be swelling with pinders,/and Mama put yellow yam taters puntop the stove." A glossary of the expressions used is included at the back, as is a recipe for "Hopping John," a black-eyed peas dish. The book opens with two pages of information on the history of the Gullah people, who are also credited with bringing the "Br'er Rabbit" stories to America. Minter's richly conceived illustrations are as good as or better than the beautiful ones he produced for Angela Shelf Medearis's Seven Spools of Thread (Albert Whitman, 2000). The result of this felicitous collaboration is a striking book that could be paired with Priscilla Jaquith's Bo Rabbit Smart for True: Tall Tales from the Gullah (Philomel, 1995; o.p.) to enrich a lesson on a special culture.Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. This collection of poems celebrates the cycle of the year through 12 poems written in the Gullah dialect, which is spoken by some African Americans on the sea islands and coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia. Boling provides an introduction to the history, language, and culture of the Gullahs, then begins a series of short poems, one for each month and another for New Year's Day. For example, "In February month, ground mole deep for hide / and gray squirrel high for hide. / The God water slide down / puntop you back and down you neck, / and everything be cold." Though some of the phrases look and sound odd, many yield their meanings when read aloud, while the illustrations offer clues and a glossary defines any words that remain puzzling. The large linoleum block prints are strong in composition, rhythmic in their use of pattern, and bright with color washes. One of the few American books to show a cycle of seasons occurring outside New England, this would be a flavorful addition to poetry collections. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved