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Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature)
Hamilton’s compelling retelling of this black folktale appeared originally in her 1985 collection with the same title. As a stand-alone in picture book format, it has been newly and profusely illustrated as a tribute to the author who died in 2002. The tale is told in the language and cadences of an African griot. When Africans were captured and brought to America as slaves, those who had known magic and could fly had to leave their wings behind, the story goes, but they kept their magic. When they are subjected to the cruelty of Master, Overseer, and Driver, old Toby helps first his daughter Sarah and her child to rise and fly away; then he and others who are stricken rise and go as well. Those who can’t fly tell the tale until they too are free. The Dillons introduce us to the soaring flyers on the jacket/cover in their multi-patterned African dress and hair styles. The end-papers display shiny black feathers on a subtle black surface, giving added credence to the tale. Full-page and half-page paintings with gold borders create believable portraits of the slaves and masters as the fields are worked and as the people fly to freedom. Mixed emotions are generated by the portrayals: the evil Overseer in black against the reddish sky, the joyous folks who can fly. Notes from both author and editor fill in further information. The final rising triumphant figure appears to be Hamilton herself. 2004 (orig. 1985), Alfred A Knopf/Random House Children’s Books, $16.95. Ages 7 up.
Debra Briatico (Children's Literature)
This classic collection contains twenty-four tales, stories, and riddles about animals, fantasy and the supernatural handed down by African slaves before and during the Civil War period. These stories, born out of the sorrow of slaves, focus on freedom and triumph and bring hope to all who read them. Bruh Rabbit and the Two Johns are just some of the fascinating characters featured in this enchanting anthology. Dillon's mystical and inspiring black-and-white illustrations perfectly complement Hamilton's well-written prose. 1985, Alfred A. Knopf, $18.00, $18.99 and $13.00. Ages 8 up.
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2005)
Long ago in Africa, it's said, the people knew how to fly, a skill that was forgotten when they were brought to the new world as slaves. Only one man remembered the magic incantation. When things got unbearable for the captives, he whispered the word into their ears so that they could rise up and escape. The title story from Virginia Hamilton's seminal collection of African American folktales, first published 20 years ago, appears here with the words unchanged for this picture book edition. Leo and Diane Dillon's luminous gold-toned illustrations beautifully express their dreams of liberation and freedom. The final picture shows a contemporary family sharing stories as the spirit of Virginia Hamilton looks down from above. An editor's note at beginning of the book shares a letter Hamilton wrote her about the story in 1984. CCBC categories: Folklore, Mythology, and Traditional Literature. 2004, Alfred A. Knopf, 32 pages, $16.95 and $18.99. Ages 5-12.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2004 (Vol. 72, No. 21))
They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like climbin up on a gate." Hamilton's The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales (1985) won a Coretta Scott King Award, and the Dillons here reissue its heartbreaking title story with gorgeous, all-new, full-color paintings. Legend has it that some people in Africa could fly, but when they were shipped to America as slaves, they shed their black, shiny wings (reflected as feathers on the glossy black endpapers). When a mother and her baby are brutally whipped in the cotton fields, an old slave resurrects his magic and helps her and others fly away, free as birds, leaving the non-magical slaves behind to tell the tale. Like the story, the paintings are both hopeful and somber, and the slaves are as graceful and softly luminous as the slave owners are stiff, pinched, and cruel. A dreamy, powerful picture-book tribute to both Hamilton and the generations-old story. (editor's note, author's note) 2004, Knopf, 32p, $16.95. Category: Picture book. Ages 9 to 12. Starred Review. © 2004 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Resplendent, powerful paintings by these two-time Caldecott-winning artists bring new life to the title story from the late Hamilton's 1985 collection, The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales . Making dramatic use of shadow and light, Leo and Diane Dillon (whose half-tone illustrations also graced the original volume) ably convey the tale's simultaneous messages of oppression and freedom, of sadness and hope. "They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic," opens the narrative, as the full-color artwork reveals elegant, beautifully clothed individuals with feathered wings serenely ascending into the sky. On the following spread, images of the Middle Passage set a fittingly somber tone, depicting Africans who "were captured for Slavery. The ones that could fly shed their wings. They couldn't take their wings across the water on the slave ships. Too crowded, don't you know." The picture-book format allows room for the relationship to develop between Sarah, who labors in the cotton fields with an infant strapped to her back, and Toby, the "old man," who utters the magic African words that give her flight. Toby helps others take flight as well (a stunning image shows seemingly hundreds linking hands and taking to the skies)--and eventually does so himself, sadly leaving some of the captives "who could not fly" behind to "wait for a chance to run." Art and language that are each, in turn, lyrical and hard-hitting make an ideal pairing in this elegant volume that gracefully showcases the talent of its creators. All ages. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Three winners of multiple honors have created this incomparable book. The Dillons illustrate Hamilton's 24 stories with marvelous pictures alive with the spirit of each: sly humor, mystery, pathos and, most powerfully, the human need for freedom. In the author's introduction and notes, we find information on black history, on the original slave storytellers"voices from the past''that include her own ancestors. The stories are given full effect by Hamilton's use of colloquial language, evoking the artless entertainer relating the exploits of ``Bruh Rabbit'' and other animal tricksters. The reader's emotional response, however, is to the artists' depictions and the author's narrative in ``The People Could Fly.'' They are the slaves from Gulla who, according to legend, escape the master's abuse one day. ``They rose on the air. Say they flew away to Free-dom.'' (All ages).
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ8.1.H154 Pe 1985
0394969251 (lib. bdg.)