Friday, February 6, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Ok, ok, so I'll admit it. I'm not a huge poetry fan. Well...I'm not even a big poetry fan, let alone huge. Even if I wouldn't necessarily chose to read a book of poetry for fun, I still loooovve books with great poems, and what better poet to write a poem-based picture book than Langston Hughes? Now, Hughes didn't tecnically produce this wonderful book, as he passed away over 40 years ago, but his poem is the center of the entire story, so I'll give him some credit too. :)

The Negro Speaks of Rivers is based on the poem of the same name, written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by the amazing E.B. Lewis. The poem speaks of the importance of water in this man's life, from time in the Euphrates in Africa, to the Mississippi River Abe Lincoln traveled down on his quest for ending slavery.

E.B. Lewis writes in an illustrator's note, the following:
"Water has played a powerful role in the lives of black people. It has been the boon and bane of our existence. We have been born out of water; baptized by water, carried by and even killed by water."
I thought that was a wonderful explanation of the connection he felt to Hughes' poem and why he felt compelled to pair it with his gorgeous illustrations.

The poem is beautiful and the illustrations are just amazing, following the path of the water that played such a huge part in the lives of the ancesters of both the author and illustrator. I was touched by this book, and have since read it over and over again, lingering on each page to see all the illustrations have to offer.

A wonderful selection for all libraries, as well as the Black History Month displays that I'm sure are popping up all over your own libraries. I truly loved this wonderful book.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Langston Hughes and E.B. Lewis
Picture Book/Poetry
Hyperion Books for Children
January 2009


Serena said...

Wow that's fantastic...I like books that have poetry in them.

Cloudscome said...

I am so glad you reviewed this lovely book today! I posted about the poem too, with some links to learn more about Langston Hughes and hear him read this poem aloud. I'll have to make sure my library gets this book.

Tricia said...

I love poetry, but I'll admit to being turned off by the Disney name on the cover. (I know, what a snob!) Now that I have been humbled, I will return to the store and look it over.

Thanks for the review.

Susan said...

I don't love poetry, but I think this book looks interesting. I have an "in" with Disney - Shame on you for dissing them, Tricia - so I'm going to order this book. Thanks for the review!