cover image Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse

Walter Dean Myers. HarperCollins, $19.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022917-7

Myers ( Scorpions ; Now Is Your Time! ) gathers a stirring collection of turn-of-the-century photographs of black children and sets them to poetry, his verse alternating between the music of 19th-century hymns and that of plain talk. The arresting portrait of a truly angelic-looking child on the book's cover, for example, is accompanied by ``Prayer'': ``Shout my name to the angels / Sing my song to the skies / Anoint my ears with wisdom / Let beauty fill my eyes.'' A series of pictures of smiling children illustrates a poem that mocks adults who are ``so tizzy-busy / They don't remember / How good a grin feels / Ain't that something / How people forget that?'' Myers's tone is sometimes sentimental--especially in the depiction of ``sweet'' or ``precious'' children, like the ``pretty little tan girl / She knows all the tricks''--and sometimes didactic; he's best in his lightest moments. The design of the book, with its warm sepia-toned photographs and Victorian decorations, handsomely showcases the haunting and hopeful faces of the children, whose names have been lost along with those of the men and women who photographed them. All ages. (Oct.)