Despite my concern about this pattern, I've posted reviews, links, and suggestions for outstanding titles in each theme month in the past. This February I resisted the urge to do so. I waited for March, on principle, to sing a hallelujah in praise of this picture book. It's my sincere hope you'll check it out and make it a point to share it with kids throughout the year.
|Crickhollow Books, 2012|
From the publisher:
"Celebrated artist Hilda Robinson shares the joys of growing up in a closely-knit African-American family and neighborhood in the days long before television and computer games.
Meet Hilda's four sisters and one brother, her Mama and Daddy, her Philadelphia neighborhood of red-brick row houses.
…an abiding love of life that shines through these delightful paintings with accompanying text."
Robinson's interpretive, light-filled paintings express both specific and global emotions. Her lens zooms in and out to capture small moments and neighborhoods, to convey action and utter stillness. Always impressionist in style, she also lends detail where needed and blurs the focus or perspective when the topic suits. The images and her attention to life's details reveal her artist's eye working from a very young age.
Kunkel's text is based on interviews with Robinson and his understanding of her personality and memories. Although the text is not arranged as free verse, it has the rhythm and phrasing to qualify. The table of contents and titles suggest that each page turn will explore a vignette of daily life from Robinson's childhood, but the spare, rhythmic, and lyrical writing elevates it from memoir to a more universal, thematic collection. In fact, each page would serve well as mentor text for young people writing about small moments of significance in their own lives.
The book's title comes from the last entry, which illustrates best what I mean:
Didn't We Have Fun!
"We didn't have a car.
We didn't have a television.
We didn't have money.
But we had parents who loved us,
a good home,
plenty to eat,
and lots of books, games, and friends.
Best of all, we had
I hope you'll look for this book and add it to your home, classroom, or library collection.
And please, pull it from the shelves all year long.