From School Library Journal
Grade 2-6–Twenty poems written during the Harlem Renaissance are perfectly paired with exuberant oil paintings. Familiar poets such as Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Claude McKay are joined by less immediately recognized names such as Effie Lee Newsome, Dorothy Vena Johnson, and Gladys May Caseley-Hayford. Their collective work, firmly grounded in this exciting explosion of African-American culture, affirms the joy of life and of personal growth and discovery. Madeline G. Allisons Children of the Sun reminds youngsters that God in his Wisdom gave you hue/Of which Hes proud–yes, proud of you! Some selections brim with hope, such as Langston Hughess To You. To dream of vast horizons of the soul/Through dreams made whole,/Unfettered free–help me! and Georgia Douglas Johnsons Your World, which is as big as you make it. Riley-Webbs vibrant, colorful illustrations employ a swirling contemporary realism in their joyful depictions of children exploring and interacting with their world. An introduction about the Harlem Renaissance is followed by brief biographical entries on the poets. Whether shared as a read-aloud to early elementary students or enjoyed individually by older readers, this collection provides delightful interaction with winsome words and images that will enhance poetry curricula and charm its perusers. Nikki Giovannis Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate: Looking at the Harlem Renaissance through Poems (Holt, 1996) is aimed at a middle/high school audience and includes more social commentary.–Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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Gr. 3-5. Twenty poems with immediate child appeal celebrate the Harlem Renaissance in this picture-book anthology, with rhythmic double-page pictures showing young people in every scene. The famous names are here, including Langston Hughes, but several of the poets are not well known. In a fine introduction, Muse points out that along with poems reflecting urban realism, there are many pastoral poems, perhaps as "an attempt to transcend the difficulties of city life." With the pride in "black like me" and the celebration of diversity, there is also Countee Cullen's "Tableau," about the hostility toward a friendship between a black boy and a white one, "locked arm in arm." Some pictures leave little space for the words, but using swooping lines and brilliant colors, Riley-Webb shows kids on the street, at a city window, and connected with forest, water, and sky. This is a book for reading aloud and talking about in the classroom, in the library, and at home. Hazel Rochman
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