cover image Now Sheba Sings the Song

Now Sheba Sings the Song

Maya Angelou. Dial Books, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-24501-8

Feelings's 84 sepia and black-and-white illustrations of black women were drawn in Africa, the U.S., South America and the Caribbean. They inspired Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to write this poem celebrating black women's strength, dignity, exuberance and sexuality. Pictures and verse complement each other in this slender offering. The sketches, by the children's book illustrator and Caldecott award winner, look, regrettably, as if they might be random jottings in an art student's sketchpad. The verses sometimes successfully mingle natural speech rhythms with a literarydiction that filters the voice of African-American woman's centuries of struggle and perseverance. An often eloquent poem is trapped amid prosaic pictures. (April 6)