Synopses & Reviews
A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights era memoir from one of Americas most celebrated poets.
Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.
A first-person account of African-American history, this is a book to study, discuss, and treasure.
"Nelson crafts a stirring autobiography in verse, focusing on her childhood in the 1950s, when her family frequently moved between military bases. Complemented by muted screen print like illustrations, Nelson's 50 poems are composed of raw reflections on formative events, including her development as a reader and writer. The political and social climate of the 1950s infuses the poems through references to bomb drills at school ('Everybody's motto is Be Prepared,/ so we practice tragic catastrophes'), the Red Scare, the death of Emmett Till, and the stirrings of the civil rights movement. Nelson's introduction to poetry reads like falling in love: 'It was like soul-kissing, the way the words/ filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk./ All the other kids zoned an hour ahead to 3:15,/ but Mrs. Purdy and I wandered lonely as clouds borne/ by a breeze off Mount Parnassus.' An intimate perspective on a tumultuous era and an homage to the power of language. Ages 12 up. Illustrator's agent: Marlena Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A Horn Book
A Bulletin of the Center for Children's BooksBlue Ribbon Book
NPR's Book Concierge 2014 Great Reads List
In the 1940s, as the world was at war, a remarkable jazz band performed on the American home front. This all-female band, originating from a boarding school in the heart of Mississippi, found its way to the most famous ballrooms in the country, offering solace during the hard years of the war. They dared to be an interracial group despite the cruelties of Jim Crow laws, and they dared to assert their talents though they were women in a ?man?s? profession. Told in thought-provoking poems and arresting images, this unusual look at our nation?s history is deep and inspiring.
About the Author
Marilyn Nelson is a three-time National Book Award Finalist, has won a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor and several Coretta Scott King Honors, and has received several prestigious poetry awards, including the Poets' Prize and the Robert Frost Medal. She has recently been a judge of poetry applicants at the National Endowment for the Arts and Yaddo, and has received three honorary doctorates.