Review by Booklist Review
Gr. 4-8. This compilation of the African American experience, from colonial times through the twentieth century, reads and looks like a family scrapbook. Divided into three sections ("Out of Africa," "Longing for the Jubilee," and "Lift Every Voice and Sing"), the chronicle is an introspective celebration of the lifestyles, struggles, triumphs, and aspirations of both recognized and unknown African American children. Readers begin their journey with the first recorded birth of a black child in America and follow along through the plight of the Little Rock Nine to the moving speech given by 14-year-old Ayinde Jean-Baptiste at the 1995 Million Man March in Washington, D.C. Photographs, excerpts from diaries and memoirs, and reproductions of artwork by black artists such as Charles Altson beautifully bring the story of each generation to life. Bolden vibrantly delivers her historical message through a contemporary perspective. --Cynthia Turnquest
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In what her preface describes as "this scrapbook, this witness of the black experience in miniature," Bolden (The Book of African-American Women) presents a pastiche of visuals and narratives spotlighting American children of African descent, from colonial times to the present. An abundance of period photographs, paintings, drawings and handsomely set-off extracts from memoirs, letters and journals create the appearance of a scrapbook or album; more importantly, they allow readers to immerse themselves directly in the historical past. An 1861 photograph of children outside an orphanage in New York City, for example, adds immediacy to the accompanying information that the orphanage was looted and set on fire during the Draft Riots of 1863. The first-hand accounts are often heartrending: in an 1868 letter to a Sunday school class in the North, a seven-year-old from Alabama whose mother has died and whose father "went off with the Yankees" writes, "Perhaps I shall get on the cars some time and come to see you. Would you speak to a black boy?" Bolden's overview meanders at times, but it is filled with intriguing, little-known facts, e.g., in March 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks touched off the Montgomery bus boycott by refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin of Birmingham, Ala., was arrested for the same offense. This impressively researched, imaginatively presented history evokes deep appreciation for the struggles, perseverance and triumphs of young black Americans. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) Artist and poet Margaret Burroughs asks, "What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?" By compiling many experiences of black children throughout American history, Bolden supplies a "call-and-response to this poem: a tribute, a celebration, a something that will, as Burroughs put it, make black youth 'confident in the knowledge of their worth.'" What readers of this book can tell one another is that black children have been enslaved, separated from their parents, and poor; they have been gifted, brave, and strong; they have written songs, books, and poetry; and they have dreamed, worked, and played. Readers can put names and voices and images to these experiences through the collected memorabilia, first-person accounts, and archival photographs showcased here. While the many sidebars and photographs invite browsing, they also occasionally interrupt the narrative, a small distraction in the less-packed historical accounts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but a more pronounced one in the denser accounts from the twentieth. Concludes with source notes, a bibliography, suggested readings from children's and young adult literature, and an index. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Bolden (Rock of Ages, 2001, etc.) presents an overview about what life has been like through the years for African-American children in the US. Covering the entire span of time from the Jamestown colony to the end of the 20th century, this is a stirring narrative that broadly summarizes conditions over these hundreds of years while dipping into details to engage and connect readers. The design, which uses a specific type for quoting actual individuals, makes the juxtaposition of such things as photographs, paintings, and notices much clearer. The heart is in these quotes from primary sources. As "Papa Dallas" tells his daughter how he lost his sight as a child for daring to learn his alphabet, he says, "Don't you cry for me now, daughter. . . . Promise me that you gonna pick up every book you can and you gonna read it from cover to cover. . . . And one more thing, I want you to promise me that you gonna tell all the children my story." The cumulative effect of hearing such heartfelt words from those who are little known along with others such as Paul Robeson, Gordon Park, and Dorothy West is a powerful one. With notes, bibliography, and an excellent suggested reading list, this will serve both browsers and researchers. Valuable and impressive. (Nonfiction. 8+)
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.