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Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry Paperback – January 1, 2001 by Ashley Bryan (Author, Illustrator)

This is a very colorful, warm and respectful presentation of African American poetry from different writers, complimented by Ashley himself. Check it out! Review Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African American Poetry is not an alphabet book. Award-winning children’s book author and former teacher Ashley Bryan has simply hit upon a straightforward way to present the work of his favorite African American poets: he uses a letter of each poem to organize the 25 excerpts and one African American spiritual. His vibrant artwork, with bold strokes of paint reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh, successfully captures the essence of each piece. "As I read," Bryan writes, "images sprang from the lines of the poets… Finally, I chose the sketches that offered a balanced play of images and did finished paintings from them in tempera paints and gouache colors." Poems ranging from the intense to the whimsical reflect the diverse voices of poets such as Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, and Gwendolyn Brooks. A colorful elephant stands solidly next to Countee Cullen’s poem: "Dear Noah: Please save me a spot / Exposed to the sun, where the Mice are not; / But if I must share my chamber, the Ant / Is the one I should welcome. Yours: L. E. Phant." From Langston Hughes we hear, "There are words like Freedom / Sweet and wonderful to say. / On my heart-strings freedom sings / All day everyday." And Eloise Greenfield chimes in with "Harriet Tubman didn’t take no stuff / Wasn’t scared of nothing neither / Didn’t come in this world to be no slave / And wasn’t going to stay one neither." This innovative, easy-to-absorb, boldly illustrated introduction to a rich variety of African American poets would be a valuable addition to any child’s bookshelf. (All ages) –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African American Poetry Paperback – January 1, 2001 by Ashley Bryan (Author, Illustrator) Review

Beautiful images and poems. It introduced me to poets I was not familiar with and included some of my favorites -Read Reviews-

According to the Forward in which the author explains the artistic process that resulted in his work, this book is unlike a traditional alphabet book in that it is “not so much to teach the alphabet to the very young, but to introduce a world of poetry and art to all children. ” Bryan employs a joyous tone to celebrate various aspects of the black experience, using “only the lines of the poems which inspired the images and capitalizing the alphabet letter wherever it occurred in those lines. ” Bryan’s use of tempera and gouache paints in a bright color palette as well as a heavy brush stroke provide a texture and depth to the illustrations that is mimetic of the cultural richness he showcases. The author extends the text with his illustrations by introducing this technique on the title pages where the book’s folk art style is used to create patterned borders that are reminiscent of kente cloth and sustaining the technique in his depiction of the subjects’ skin tones and the fabrics they wear. The artistic revelry is strictly contained by and balanced within a large frame on each opening that regiments the placement of the poetry, the appropriate letter, and the poet’s name on the backdrop of the illustration. Bryan’s litany closes not with the letter Z but with acknowledgements that list the sources for all of the poems.

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