cover image Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood

Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-7650-2

Christie’s handsome paintings of Harlem’s Sugar Hill neighborhood bring warmth to Weatherford’s catalogue of the African-American artists who lived there in the 1920s and ’30s. Weatherford’s bouncy verse establishes a backbeat (“Sugar Hill, Sugar Hill where life is sweet,/ And the ‘A’ train stops for the black elite”) as Christie (who collaborated with the author on Dear Mr. Rosenwald) paints small figures dwarfed by the iron girders of the elevated train line and old-fashioned, flat-roofed apartment buildings. Through uncurtained windows, readers see grandmothers and grandchildren in quiet sitting rooms and revelers dancing late into the night (“Where grand townhomes lend river views,/ and parties swing to jazz and blues”). Some of Sugar Hill’s illustrious residents may be new to readers (“Where Robeson puts down roots a while/ and Sonny Rollins hangs with Miles”); an author’s note and “who’s who” section provide more information. Tranquil scenes of sidewalk life—Lena Horne out strolling in a big hat, small groups gathered in front of store windows—commemorate a neighborhood whose residents were prosperous and secure. This portrait of a community of color that cherished its artists will inspire readers. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)