cover image Our People

Our People

Angela Shelf Medearis. Atheneum Books, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31826-9

Medearis ( Come This Far to Freedom: A History of African Americans ) writes in the voice of an African American girl whose father has told her a great deal about the accomplishments of earlier African Americans, beginning with the ancient Egyptians (``Daddy says our people built the pyramids''). Her paraphrases are followed by expressions of the girl's desire to have taken part in such achievements (``I wish I could have been there. I would have helped them with the plans''). She concludes that ``Daddy says our people have a glorious past, but that I have a glorious future. . . . I want to do something great. Just like the rest of our people''--an indisputably worthwhile message. Yet Medearis's insistence on initiating each discussion with the same phrase (``Daddy says'') results in monotonous reading, and the narrative suffers from overly general remarks, such as ``Daddy says that our people created inventions that are still used today. He says that every time we stop at a stoplight or change a light bulb we're using something our people have invented.'' More impressive are the accomplished paintings of Bryant--a newcomer to children's books--which sturdily evoke both the present day and the various eras mentioned. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)