cover image Sing to the Sun: Poems and Pictures

Sing to the Sun: Poems and Pictures

Ashley Bryan. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020829-5

In his first book of poems for both children and adults, Bryan elegantly and powerfully celebrates life--the sadness of leaving, the joy to be found in nature, the pride of family. He artfully blends the traditions of African American culture with those of Western art. Like the ``Village Voices'' Bryan sets forth, his poems sing ``through tree trunks / Voices branch out / To leaves of melody,'' in topics ranging from touching tributes to his family to thoughtful statements about the life of the artist. In both art and text, he interweaves voices that are sophisticated--both in artistic technique and in understanding--with those that are tied to folk storytelling traditions. The illustrations, with their jewel-like colors and compelling faces, tangle uncomplicated images with those that are stylistically more elaborate. Similarly, Bryan's language relies not only on resonant island rhythms but lyrical traditions as well. Like his description of his sister's stories, Bryan's words seem ``Winged /Agile as birdsong / Dazzling as jazz.'' All ages. (Sept.)