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My People (09 Edition)by Langston Hughes
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Langston Hughes's spare yet eloquent tribue to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today.
"'At just thirty-three words total, [this] poem is a study in simplicity,' writes Smith (Rimshots; If); in its visual simplicity, his picture-book presentation is a tour de force. Introducing the poem two or three words at a time, Smith pairs each phrase with a portrait of one or more African-Americans; printed in sepia, the faces of his subjects materialize on black pages. 'The night,' reads the opening spread, across from an image of a man's face, his eyes shut; 'is beautiful,' continues the next spread, showing the same face, now with eyes open and a wide smile. The text, sized big to balance the portraits, shows up in hues that range from white to tan to brown-black, reflecting Smith's reading that 'the words celebrate black people of differing shades and ages.' An inventive design adds a short, shadowed row or column of small portraits to the edge of many spreads; these quietly reinforce the concept of 'my people.' Whether of babies, children or adults, Smith's faces emerge into the light, displaying the best that humanity has to offer — intelligence, wisdom, curiosity, love and joy. Ages 4 — 8." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Although both of these poems originally appeared in the Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP, in 1923 and were reprinted in Hughes' first collection, "The Weary Blues," in 1926, they seem to speak directly to young readers today. These breathtakingly beautiful new editions ensure that Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes' words will reverberate for a whole new generation. Although "My... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) People" combines (and recombines) a mere 15 words — "The night is beautiful,/ So the faces of my people./ The stars are beautiful,/ So the eyes of my people" — Hughes' powerful tribute sings with both admiration and joy. Charles Smith Jr. has chosen to illustrate these deeply felt sentiments with photographs that focus tightly on the utterly ordinary but strikingly beautiful faces and hands of his subjects: a baby laughing, a mother gazing at her child, a young man closing his eyes to enter an inner world. With this book, readers will understand what Hughes understood almost a century ago: Life, in all its variety, is itself a work of art. In "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," illustrator E. B. Lewis also focuses on hands, faces and feet, but he uses watercolors to capture as well the path of sunlight across a wide river, the watery interplay of waves along a beach, even the cracked clay bottom of a wadi gone to dust. In the stunning self-portrait that accompanies the line "My soul has grown deep like the rivers," painter and poet seem, for a moment, to have merged, awed by the power of this primal element, humbled by its beauty. Kristi Jemtegaard is the youth services coordinator for Arlington Public Library. Reviewed by Kristi Jemtegaard, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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About the Author
Langston Hughes (1902andndash;1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri, and lived much of his life in Harlem, New York. As one Americaandrsquo;s most cherished chroniclers of the black experience, known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance, Hughesandrsquo;s work was constantly groundbreaking throughout his forty-six-year career. His poetry about the ocean and the symbolism that surrounds it stems from his travels through Africa and Europe working as a seaman.andlt;bandgt;Charles R. Smith, Jr.andlt;/bandgt; is an acclaimed poet and the Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator of andlt;iandgt;My Peopleandlt;/iandgt;, a picture book based on the poem by Langston Hughes. He is also the illustrator of andlt;iandgt;Ifandlt;/iandgt;, the author and photographer of andlt;iandgt;I Am the Worldandlt;/iandgt;, and he won theandnbsp;Coretta Scott King Author Honor for his book andlt;iandgt;Twelve Rounds To Gloryandlt;/iandgt;. He grew up in California and attended the Brooks Institute of Photography. A magazine and book cover photographer in addition to a picture book creator, Charles lives with his wife and kids in Poughkeepsie, New York. Visit him at CharlesRSmithJr.com.
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