cover image Soul Looks Back in Wonder

Soul Looks Back in Wonder

Tom Feelings. Dial Books, $17.99 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1001-6

For his first full-color picture book, Caldecott Honor artist Feelings ( Jambo Means Hello ) solicits poems from a stellar lineup of contemporary African American authors. The contributors, he writes, ``understand that one way to project our positive hopes for the future is for young people to see their own beauty reflected in our eyes, through our work.'' The selections--by Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, Askia M. Toure and 10 others--are uniformly uplifting, with affirming messages about the heritage, strength and dreams of African Americans. ``Who / can be born black / and / not / sing / the wonder of it / the joy / the / challenge,'' asks Mari Evans. Drawings of figures stand out against dynamic, poster-like designs in collages that emphasize the ``flow of African creativity'' that the artist wishes to share; a note on the copyright page explains Feelings's use of blueprints, colored pencils, spray paints, cutouts and colored papers (including marbleized paper and wallpaper). The verse was gathered after the art was completed--in a sense, the poetry illustrates the collages. Of special note is Langston Hughes's previously unpublished ``To You,'' written for a poster Feelings executed in 1962. Hughes invokes dreamers to help him make ``our world anew,'' while Feelings's breathtaking design incorporates a winged figure flying through a vista of violets, golds and olive green. A unique celebration. Ages 7-up. BOMC selection. (Nov.)