From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up This charming collection of 26 poems is vibrantly illustrated with depictions of African Americans in varied settings. Homesick Blues shows a saxophone player conjuring up a locomotive at a railroad station. Harlem features a line of people waiting at a bus stop. A poignant rendering of a child watching from outside the fence surrounding a carousel accompanies Merry-Go-Round. For I, Too, a jubilant man leaps, arms and legs stretched out, and for Dream Variations, a man is poised on tiptoe, arms outstretched with the word DREAMS dripping from his fingertips into a heap on the floor. A four-page introduction tells about Hughes's life, setting the context for the poems that follow. Each selection includes a brief introduction, many recounting Hughes's own thoughts about it, and footnotes explain dialect and historical terms such as Jim Crow. The paintings include folk-art and African influences and some minor surrealistic touches, with bright colors and exaggerated limbs on the human figures. This will be a welcome introduction to Hughes's poetry for elementary students, and it includes sufficient detail to make it useful and enjoyable for older students. With its vivid illustrations and wealth of information, Milton Meltzer's biography Langston Hughes
(Millbrook, 1997) is a good companion volume. Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. Hughes' stirring poetry continues to have enormous appeal for young people. In this illustrated collection of 26 poems, Andrews' beautiful collage-and-watercolor illustrations extend the rhythm, exuberance, and longing of the words--not with literal images, but with tall, angular figures that express a strong sense of African American music, dreams, and daily life--while leaving lots of space for the words to "sing America." The picture-book format makes Hughes' work accessible to some grade-school children, especially for reading aloud and sharing, but the main audience will be older readers, who can appreciate the insightful, detailed introduction and biography, as well as the brief notes accompanying each poem, contributed by Hughes scholars Roessel and Rampersol. Their comments, together with the quotes from the poet himself, will encourage readers to return to the book to see how Hughes made poetry of his personal life, black oral and musical traditions, urban experience, and the speech of ordinary people. Whether the focus is the Harlem Renaissance, the political struggle, Hughes' African heritage, or the weary blues, this book will find great use in many libraries. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved