cover image Coming Home

Coming Home

Floyd Cooper, Robertson Cooper. Philomel Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22682-3

This insightful picture book illuminates, in both words and art, moments from the childhood of poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Facing difficult times with his parents because of segregation and other forms of racism, Hughes spent many of his early years in the care of his grandmother in Lawrence, Kans. As told by Cooper ( From Miss Ida's Porch ) in the first book he has written as well as illustrated, the wide-open Midwest offers Langston plenty of space to dream, but staying with poor and aging Grandma proves mostly sad and lonely. An eventual move to the home of family friends ushers in a rosy period of love and care that encourages Hughes's burgeoning writing career. Young readers may not understand how Hughes's childhood shaped his adult work, but they are likely to enjoy this story in and of itself. Warmly lit oil portraits, so atmospheric that the sounds of daily life seem to emanate from them, are almost sure to prompt questions about the era, while a muted palette of browns, golds and pinks establishes a comfortable mood. A fine tribute. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)