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Freedom Like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans Library Binding – April 9, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up-Thirteen African Americans, noteworthy for their courageous struggles against serious obstacles, are commemorated in this inspiring collection of celebratory poems. Athletes Arthur Ashe, Leroy "Satchel" Paige, Jesse Owens, and Wilma Rudolph; musicians Louis Armstrong, Marian Anderson, and Billie Holiday; writer Langston Hughes; and activists Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X are included. Each double-page spread is appealingly laid out with a poem on the verso and a portrait of its subject or poignant illustration on the recto. The distinguished portraits have been created in a variety of media, including pencil, pastels, and paints. The poems, some with such onomatopoeic phrases as the "nickel-a, nickel-a, nickel-a" of Louis Armstrong's "nickel-a-bucket tunes," beg to be read aloud. Children in primary grades will enjoy experiencing some of them in this way, while older students will also be able to read them independently. An appendix of brief biographical notes will be a useful starting point for youngsters wishing to learn more about the lives of these memorable subjects.
Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Gr. 5-12. Stunning illustrations by John Thompson take center stage in this attractively designed poetry collection that pays homage to legendary African Americans including Sojourner Truth, Arthur Ashe, and Rosa Parks. Using a range of styles and meter, the mostly rhyming poems are dramatic and reverential, but they evoke the spirit of their subjects and reference events in their remarkable lives without seeming overtly biographical or didactic. The simplest selections are often the best, their beautiful images not overwhelmed by the tribute: in "Baby Contralto," about Marian Anderson, "She brushed / her voice / Across the air / In colors / Not seen / Anywhere. / In colors / Beautiful / And strong. / She brushed / The air. . . / And painted song." But it's the radiant paintings, including a head-turning jacket portrait of the young Malcolm X, that will captivate a wide range of children and encourage repeated readings. Full-page, realistic images, elegantly balanced opposite poems on stark white backgrounds, powerfully capture the subjects in a mix of traditional portraiture, group scenes, and still life (the illustration for the poem about Langston Hughes, for example, shows only a sunlit desk with a typewriter, a coffee cup, an ashtray, and a smoking cigarette). Extensive biographical notes conclude a fine collection that can be used across the curriculum. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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