I Have Heard of a Land

Joyce Carol Thomas, Author, Floyd Cooper, Illustrator
Joyce Carol Thomas, Author, Floyd Cooper, Illustrator HarperCollins $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-023477-5
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-06-023478-2
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-06-443617-5
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-17563-0
Prebound-Glued - 32 pages - 978-0-613-22795-7
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7807-9963-9
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Inspired by her own family's history, Thomas's (Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea) stirring picture book explores the little-known experiences of African American pioneers who settled in Oklahoma during the late 1800s. This moving, poetic account of a brave black woman who stakes a claim ""where the cottonwood trees are innocent/ Where the coyote's call is a lullaby at night/ And the land runs on forever"" offers a new perspective on an era otherwise well-documented in picture books and school texts. In almost palpable imagery, Thomas describes the natural beauty of a bold new frontier as well as the hopeful, strong and passionate people who created new lives there and realized their dreams. In his third collaboration with Thomas, Cooper (Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, Gingerbread Days), an Oklahoma native, completes the mood with his signature grainy, dreamy oil-wash portraits. His landscapes, dotted with trees, crops and cabins, glow in soft pink, yellow and brown hues. Scenes of a girl soaring on a homemade swing, neighbors worshipping in the open air and building a log house are particularly uplifting. The book stands alone as a pleasant slice of historical fiction, but will also hold much appeal for teachers and students. Thomas's author's note about the book's origins adds a special resonance to the proceedings. Ages 7-11. (Apr.)
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