cover image Jump Back, Honey

Jump Back, Honey

Brian Pinkney, Paul Laurence Dunbar. Jump at the Sun, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0464-1

This affectionate celebration of Paul Laurence Dunbar's (1872-1906) work features uniformly excellent illustrations--an engaging and coherent pastiche of various mediums and palettes that delight the eye. From Bryan's dazzling tempera and gouache painting of the dawn to Jerry Pinkney's enticing dust jacket illustrating a courting poem, the visual images beckon the reader to sample the energy and vitality of the poems. In a touching afterword, each illustrator discusses the value of Dunbar's poetry, both personally and in terms of African-American culture. However, despite these tributes to the ongoing influence of Dunbar's work and the editors' attempts to select verse that will translate well to contemporary children, the language of some poems may pose difficulties. Reading certain poems requires a willingness to leap across the barriers of dialect (""But be hea't goes into bus'ness fu' to he'p erlong de eah"") or of the conventions of turn-of-the-century poetry (""Ah, Douglass, we have fall'n on evil days,/ Such days as thou, not even thou didst know""). Happily, one of Dunbar's gifts was his range of poetic styles; works such as the eloquent ""Dawn"" (""An angel, robed in spotless white,/ Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night./ Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone./ Men saw the blush and called it Dawn"") will more easily introduce a new generation to Dunbar's legacy. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)