cover image Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea

Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea

Joyce Carol Thomas. HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021087-8

National Book Award winner Thomas ( Marked By Fire ) celebrates the beauty and heritage of African Americans in a lyrical collection of poems. Couched in language that is learned yet emotional, the verses focus on family life, love, freedom and dreams. Although some sentiments and topics seem too adult for the sensibility of Thomas's child narrators, many poems memorably describe particular individuals--Mama, who carries broomweed ``like a healing flower / Over and over the rising road / Branching / Like the divining lines / in her / harvest hands''; or Granny, who warns, ``Be careful what you ponder . . . / Over a cup of steaming leaves / for it will surely come to pass.'' Other poems more explicitly address African American problems, as when the narrator's parents warn that ``There are those who / Have brewed a / Bitter potion for / Children kissed long by the sun.'' Cooper's handsome paintings, essentially realistic but enveloped in a haze of light, help emphasize the warmth and love that imbue the book. All ages. (Oct.)