Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Classic African American Children's Book

This book is a most excellent one for your home library and mine.  Poet Gwendolyn Brooks published the book of children's poetry, Bronzeville Boys and Girls in 1956.  Bronzeville refers to the historic Black neighborhood on Chicago's South Side that was shaped by the first Great Migration of Black southerners to the urban north.  My expertise in things related to historical African American childhood ends at 1954, so I've seen copies of this book in various archives, but I don't know that much about its creation and publication.  Except that Brooks is an amazing poet. Her work never fails to move me and thrill me with its ability to reveal the nuances of a cultural moment, and the emotional life of a cultural moment.  And 1956 is such an amazing moment to capture Black Chicago, a time of triumph.  Which is all to say that I really love this book, so simple but so deep.  And, while I like the classic illustrations, you can't go wrong with some Faith Ringgold.  I'm so happy that there is now an in print edition of this book (with the new FR illustrations). Recommend!

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