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Black history for the young: books recommended for every age that teach about our heritage.

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Volume 11: Works for Children and Young Adults: Poetry, Fiction and Other Writing

Edited with an Introduction by Dianne Johnson University of Missouri Press, September 2003 $44.95, ISBN 0-826-21498-3 Ages 10 and up

Hughes's wrote literature for children, beginning in 1921--when, at only 19, he began writing--until his death in 1967. Many of the original illustrations by black artists that accompanied these stories and poems when they first appeared in publications such as The Crisis, The New Republic, Vanity Fair and Opportunity are included. There's also a chronology of the author's life and work by prize-winning biographer Arnold Rampersad. This is a wonderful addition to Hughes's collection of memorable works.

--Reviewed by Elise Virginia Ward Elise Virginia Ward is a frequent contributor to BIBR.

Ellington Was Not a Street

by Ntozake Shange Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, January 2004 $15.95, ISBN 0-689-82884-5 Ages six to 12

Shange introduces readers to such black male luminaries as Virgil "Honey Bear" Akins, Ray Baretto, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Paul Robeson, Earlington Carl "Sonny Til" Tilghman, and famed African American vocal group The Clovers--all through the eyes of the young girl. The author constructs a narrative that closely resembles poetry in its cadence, verse structure and imagery. The potent effect of the language owes much to strategic layout: terse crisp phrases occupy only half of the pages in the text. Kadir Nelson's bold portraitlike illustrations borrow heavily from realist art. The juxtaposition of Nelson's images with Shange's at times intangible prose will prompt young readers to learn more about the legacy of these remarkable black men.

--Reviewed by Erica O. Dolland Erica O. Dolland is an elementary school teacher in Harlem, New York. She is writing a book series for young girls.

Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone: The Brown v. Board of Education Decision

Edited by Joyce Carol Thomas Illustrations by Curtis James Jump At The Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, December 2003 $15.99, ISBN 0-786-80821-7 Ages 12 and up

Fifty years after the historic decision on May 17, 1954, that made segregated public schools illegal, Thomas has asked black and white grown ups, who were children at the time, to look back and share their memories, Illustrator Curtis James beautifully and sensitively captures the essence of these poignant stories and poems by Jean Craighead George, Eloise Greenfield, Katherine Paterson and Ishmael Reed among others. Every child and parent who reads these stories will understand and newly appreciate what has gone before and what still needs to be done.

--Reviewed by Elise Virginia Ward

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

by Charles A. Taylor, illustrated by Charles A. Taylor II Open Hand Publishing, LLC., 2002 $19.95, ISBN 0-940-88068-7 Ages 10 and up

When Union General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, he issued General Orders Number 3, which notified slaves in Texas that they were free. This historical document and the Emancipation Proclamation are provided in the book, along with little-known facts about slavery in Texas and accounts of the horrors of slavery in graphic detail.

Juneteenth became a legal holiday in Texas in 1980. Today, it is celebrated in more than 200 cities throughout the country. The book ends with a family's celebration of June teenth, which begins before dawn with a candlelight ceremony where ancestors who were slaves are named, and ends with another candlelight ceremony, this lime family names of freedmen are called.

Vintage photographs and illustrations by Taylor bring the book to life.

Margaree King Mitchell is the author of Uncle Jed's Barbershop and Granddaddy's Gift.

Harlem stomp! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance.

by Laban Carrick Hill, Foreword by Nikki Giovanni Little, Brown and Company, January 2004 $18.95, ISBN 0-316-81411-3 Ages 10 and up

Brilliant photographs, paintings, show programs and historical documentation of the era will attract young readers--and their parents--to such chapters as "Black Metropolis: The Rise of Harlem, 1900-1920," which talks about the influence of literary pioneers like Wallace Thurman and Langston Hughes; "Stompin' at the Savoy: Music and Dance of the Renaissance" tells us about playful latenight competitions or "cutting contests" between Willie "The Lion" Smith, James P. Johnson ("The Father of Stride Piano") and Thomas "Fats" Waller where "Only the most nimble hand survived these lightening-quick competitions." In "Against All Odds: Visual Artists and Their Struggle for Recognition," readers learn about painter Aaron Douglas, often cited as the official artist of the Harlem Renaissance for his bold yet elegant depictions of African American life.

--Reviewed by Suzanne Rust

Satchel Paige

by Lesa Cline-Ransome, paintings by James E. Ransome Aladdin Paperbacks, 2003 $6.99, ISBN 0-689-85681-4 Ages six to 10

This book will connect children to the first African American to pitch in a Major League World Series and first Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and provide a complete synopsis for those of any age. The eye-catching, colorful paintings are awesome.

Art Rust Jr. is a sports historian and frequent contributor to BIBR.

Just Like Josh Gibson

by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Beth Peck Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, January 2004 $15.95 ISBN 0-689-82628-1 Ages five to eight

A beautiful love letter to baseball, from a grandmother-who played baseball as child-to her granddaughter. A tribute to the great Negro League player Josh Gibson.

S.R.

A Pride of African Tales

by Donna L. Washington, illustrated by James Ransome Amistad, February 2004 Ages nine to 12

Six stories from across the Continent, selected from numerous oral and written sources, reflect the variety of storytelling that exists throughout Africa. These African folktales will draw young readers in and help them experience the rich storytelling tradition of our ancestors. Beautiful watercolors by artist James Ransome proudly depict our heritage.

S.R.

Talking Drums: A Selection of Poems from Africa South of the Sahara

Edited by Veronique Tadjo Bloomsbury Children's Books, January 2004 $15.95, ISBN 1-582-34813-8 Ages 10 and older

A broad range of work, both modern and traditional. Delicate black-and-white drawings are a pleasing accompaniment to the poems.

S.R.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Bibliography
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:1030
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