cover image Shouting!


Joyce Carol Thomas, , illus. by Annie Lee. . Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0664-5

Thomas (Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea ) pays homage to shouting, a form of holy dancing with African roots and commonly seen in African-American churches, with her evocative poetic picture book. A girl watches with awe and curiosity as her mother dons her fine dress, shoes and flowered hat, rendering her "ready for Sunday" at their church. Once the service begins, Mama is touched by the ghost that draws her into a fevered shouting spell replete with exclamations of "Yes," "Hallelujah" and "Amen" from the congregation. Later in the text, the same narrator, now a grown woman, draws a link between her Mama's joyful church expression and the ages-old dancing of her African ancestors. The author's lyrical writing brims with images, though the light plotting may prove confusing for younger readers. However, the free-flowing verse will whisk many away to a spiritual place. Making her picture book debut, accomplished fine artist Lee delivers a series of energetic oil paintings, but her scenes depicting African-Americans with featureless faces may also puzzle youngsters. Mama's luscious pink hat that "looked like a flower basket," the choir's flowing purple robes and a chorus of outstretched hands raised in praise in front of stained glass windows are among the memorable scenes. An author's note details the author's research on and inspiration for the book. All ages. (Feb.)