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One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance Hardcover – Illustrated, January 3, 2017

4.7 out of 5 stars 72 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up—In this innovative and powerful compendium, Grimes pairs original poems with classics from the Harlem Renaissance. In a brief historical note on the period, she acknowledges the significance of black artists giving voice to the experiences of black life and cites the continued relevance of the literature of the period in a society that, decades later, still struggles with racial identity and injustice. The author credits as inspiration the messages of hope, perseverance, survival, and positivity she finds in the work of poets like Countee Cullen, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Langston Hughes, and she, too, explores these themes in her own poems. Furthermore, Grimes brilliantly uses the words of her literary predecessors to structure the book, employing the golden shovel, a form in which the words from selected lines or stanzas are borrowed, only to become the last words of each line in a new poem. The result is not only a beautiful homage to the Harlem Renaissance but also a moving reflection on the African American experience and the resilience of the human spirit: "The past is a ladder/that can help you/keep climbing." In addition, each pair of poems—each of Grimes's works follows the poem that inspired it—is accompanied by a full-color illustration by a prominent African American illustrator. Featured artists include Pat Cummings, E.B. Lewis, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, and Javaka Steptoe, among others, and the back matter contains brief poet and illustrator biographies. VERDICT This unique and extraordinary volume is a first purchase for all middle school poetry collections.—Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

Review

"Timely and thought-provoking . . . Grimes' choice of form, the Golden Shovel poem, does the magic of weaving generations of black verbal artistry into a useful, thematic, golden thread. . . . This striking, passionate anthology reminds young readers and adult fans of poetry alike that while black life remains 'no crystal stair,' there remains reason to hope and a reserve of courage from which to draw." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews

"Through a chorus of contemporary voices--including proud parents, striving children, and weary but determined elders--Grimes powerfully transposes the original poems’ themes of racial bias, hidden inner selves, beauty, and pride into the here and now." - starred review, Publishers Weekly

"Innovative and powerful . . . a beautiful new homage to the Harlem Renaissance but also a moving reflection on the African American experience and the resilience of the human spirit." - starred review, School Library Journal

"Between the covers of this compact volume lies artistic, literary, sociocultural, and curricular gold . . . Mothers and elders exhort and reflect while young boys and girls plead and dream, reimagining the sorrows and dreams of the legendary wordsmiths into scenarios involving superheroes, bullies, peer pressure, poverty, and prom dates that young readers will relate to. This is simply essential for both personal and classroom collections." - starred review, BCCB

"The vibrancy of the Harlem Renaissance is illuminated in Grimes’s provocative poetry collection . . . This enterprising and unusual volume not only introduces the Harlem Renaissance to young readers but also presents the challenge of a new way to write and enjoy poetry." - The Horn Book Magazine

"By turns touching and laugh-out-loud funny." - starred review, School Library Journal on PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL

"[Grimes's] accessible verse and clear themes of self-acceptance and open-mindedness ring true. A work that should help adolescent readers find the courage and humor to grow into the individuals they already are." - Kirkus Reviews on PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL

"Captures universal moments of confusion, anger, guilt, and fun." - Booklist on PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL

"Grimes explores the tension between individuality and gender-role conformity and takes on young adolescent concerns such as changing friendships, the shift in boy/girl relationships, and first crushes." - Horn Book Magazine on PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL

"The vocabulary is rich, the characters well-drawn, and the scenes realistic. This is a serious but not too serious look at growing up from a master poet." - Library Media Connection on PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL

"Readers will cringe, laugh, and most of all relate to [Joylin's] learning process as it is sensitively and sweetly depicted here. . . . Has broad appeal and solid curricular possibilities." - BCCB on PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL

"Throughout the book are color illustrations by award winning illustrators, such as E.B. Lewis, Pat Cummings, and Christopher Myers, which complement the poetry." - School Library Connection


Product details

  • Lexile measure : NP
  • Grade level : 4 - 6
  • Hardcover : 128 pages
  • Item Weight : 14.7 ounces
  • ISBN-10 : 1619635542
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1619635548
  • Publisher : Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Illustrated edition (January 3, 2017)
  • Dimensions : 6.37 x 0.63 x 7.92 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Reading level : 10 - 14 years
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 72 ratings

Jesse Eisenberg's latest fiction
"When You Finish Saving the World" Listen free with trial

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