Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Kadir Nelson, Illustrator
Kadir Nelson. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (108p) ISBN 978-0-06-173074-0
Reviewed on: 06/20/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-0-06-173079-5
Library Binding - 108 pages - 978-0-06-173076-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-212525-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-221172-9
Prebound-Glued - 112 pages - 978-0-606-35050-1
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As in We Are the Ship, Nelson knits together the nation's proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama. He handles this vast subject with easy grace, aided by the voice of a grandmotherly figure who's an amalgam of voices from Nelson's own family. She does not gloss over the sadness and outrage of her family's history, but her patient, sometimes weary tone ("The law didn't do a thing to stop it," she says about the Ku Klux Klan. "Shoot, some of the men wearing the sheets were lawmen") makes listeners feel the quiet power that survival requires. In jaw-dropping portraits that radiate determination and strength, Nelson paints heroes like Frederick Douglass and Joe Louis, conferring equal dignity on the slaves, workers, soldiers, and students who made up the backbone of the African-American community. The images convey strength and integrity as he recounts their contributions, including "the most important idea ever introduced to America by an African American"—Dr. King's nonviolent protest. A tremendous achievement. Ages 9–up. (Aug.)
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