cover image Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

Suzanne Slade, illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Abrams, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3411-3

In stirring free verse and resplendent acrylic paintings, these collaborators pay affecting tribute to Brooks, who, in 1950, became the first black person to receive a Pulitzer Prize. Laced with Brooks’s spoken and written words, the lyrical narrative by Slade echoes the personal tenor of the subject’s poetry, inspired by “the nonstop busyness, the hard-luck grittiness” of her neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side. One of Brooks’s poems, “Clouds,” printed at the book’s end, provides a leitmotif executed in tandem by Slade and Cabrera; in one spread that includes a quote from the poet, a young Brooks gazes at a cotton candy–hued sunset sky, dreaming about the future. Despite publishers’ rejection letters and financial struggles during the Depression, she continued to believe in that hopeful future as “everywhere she looked, Gwendolyn saw more stories that needed to be told. So she kept writing.” This fine biography should ignite readers’ interest in exploring Brooks’s exquisite writing. Ages 6–9. [em](Apr.) [/em]