cover image Pass It on: African American Poetry

Pass It on: African American Poetry

Wade Hudson. Scholastic Press, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-45770-5

Like Bernie Fuchs's illustrations for Ragtime Tumpie , Cooper's painterly, sun-drenched portraits for this collection are as rich and varied as the verses themselves. A potpourri of poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Giovanni and Langston Hughes is interspersed with works by lesser known writers. Although some selections focus on experience unique to African Americans--such as Countee Cullen's ``Incident,'' about an eight-year-old who is called ``Nigger''--many of them deal with the common experiences of children of all races--eating chocolate, jumping in a puddle, taking a bath. Unfortunately, not all of the poems and illustrations are equally well chosen or designed. Occasionally two incompatible paintings are joined confusingly in the book's gutter, faces seem distorted, and dark backgrounds make the text hard to read. Despite these caveats, the warmly textured illustrations for ``Dream Keeper'' and ``Harriet Tubman,'' together with the expressive faces on the cover, will insure that the culture portrayed is--as intended--``passed from one generation to another.'' Ages 5-9. (Mar.)