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The Great Migration: An American Story Paperback – September 15, 1995

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

PW's starred review praised the "starkly poetic art" and "eloquent text" of this account of the northward flow of African Americans after WWI. Ages 8-up.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up-A noted African-American artist chronicles the 1916-1919 migration of blacks from the South through a sequence of 60 paintings and accompanying narrative captions. The story begins with the call for new workers in the North to replace those men fighting in Europe. There was no justice for African Americans under Southern law, and sharecropping kept them poor. Lawrence depicts their arrival in Chicago and Pittsburgh; their new jobs in factories; the attacks against them by white workers; and their new opportunities, such as voting and going to school. At first, most of the paintings are set in the South, showing only a few people venturing north. Later on, the artwork is more crowded, with the phrase "And the migrants kept coming" repeated over and over again. The cumulative effect is powerful, and could not have been achieved by illustrations or words alone. Although more abstract than realistic, the paintings evoke fear and hope and transmit the courage of those who left behind everything they had known in order to find a better life. Since its completion in 1941, the art has been scattered among several museums, and young readers are fortunate to have it collected here in a single volume. A moving poem by Walter Dean Myers makes a fitting conclusion to this exceptional title.
Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064434281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064434287
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 0.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on October 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Parents hoping to introduce their children to modern American art could do worse than to buy this edition reproducing 60 paintings by Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), one of the finest African American artists in U.S. history.

First published for children in a 1993 limited edition, with a poem by Walter Dean Myers, this volume reproduces the Great Migration series that Lawrence created in 1940 and 1941 to tell the story of the African American migration north, from the plantations and cotton fields of the antebellum era.

Begun within a year after Lawrence completed a magnificent Harriet Tubman series, these tempura colored, poster paint works made Jacob Lawrence's career. It's easy to see why. Bold and unforgiving, these vibrant works grew from Lawrence's own childhood migration--from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Easton, Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia and finally, at 13, to Harlem--his exposure to African-American culture and his intensive training in the Utopia Children's House and New Deal-sponsored Harlem Art Workshop of the 1930s.

At that time, the WPA was still funding public art murals, but Lawrence was too young to gain a commission. Instead, he determined to show the African-American struggle for freedom in real-life stories that would tie the past to the present.

From 1938 to 1941, he used the New York public library for research, creating in swift succession five series of paintings telling the stories of Toussaint L'Ouverture, Tubman, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and The Migration of the Negro.

In the last of these, Lawrence hoped to speak artistically of a mass escape from the rural, discriminatory and unjust South--a region of poverty and illiteracy--into an anxious era of hope and expectation in the North.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jay Carskadden on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I checked this book out from the library over a year ago and knew from the illustration that Jacob Lawrence was a special person. I was drawn to the illustration because it is soothing. His illustration style is flat, yet there is a world of depth. It is the kind of art that I could have on my wall and never tire of. I remember more the art than the story. The art told a story. This book is as much for adults as it is for children. Since hearing that Jacob Lawrence died...I instantly felt the need to get one of his books for my home library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By chacha on January 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book belongs on your coffee table.The paintings are wonderful and there is a little history with each painting.This book illustrates and explains how African Americans arrived north. Not only will adults enjoyed this book but children will as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By robocop on April 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book illustrates the Great Migration in the U.S., the moving of African-Americans from the south to the northern states in search of a better life, with vibrantly saturated images of Jacob Lawrence's painting series entitled, "The Great Migration."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By grandmanana on January 30, 2013
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought the book because i am a fan of Jacob Lawrence, but i was a little disappointed with the illustrations. The story line was okay.
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Format: Paperback
During the 1910s there was a shift in African American populations from the South to North. Many families made this migration in hopes of creating a better life for themselves in the booming industrial cities of the North. Artist Jacob Lawrence’s parents met while on that journey and Jacob was born shortly thereafter. Later, in adulthood he wanted to capture the shared story of many who took a leap of faith in hopes of progress, freedoms, and a chance at equality. These impressive visuals and remarkable poem by Walter Dean Myers represent this time well.
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Everyone should know about Jacob Lawrence! He was a great artist and the Migration series is an invaluable tool for teaching young people a piece of American history and the history of black people in the U.S. Sad, poignant, beautiful.
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