The Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Disney - Jump at the Sun Books
I picked up this book for a couple of reasons, first because its the Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Honor Book and the poem is by Langston Hughes. I confess I didn't know who E. B. Lewis is but after reading this book, I made it my business to learn more about the illustrator.
While I knew the poem and enjoyed it, I can tell you reading it in concert with Lewis' illustration is an entirely new experience. In fact, I'm going to say the experience was to borrow Lewis' description, spiritual. Lewis writes that he knew the poem from his boyhood but when he got the assignment he experienced the text in a whole new way. He said he recited the poem over and over until it became like a prayer and you feel that as you turn each page. There is a reverence, a peace, a kind of beauty that washes over you.
I shared my borrowed copy with several co-workers and they all loved it. One mom said she was going to purchase it this weekend. I wish had been exposed to more illustrated books as a child. As an adult I'm discovering the power and beauty in illustrated books that I didn't know existed. It's hard to describe what it means to me to experience art in this way. I do know that I want to read more illustrated books, and I hope that some parent with young children reads my reaction to this book and is motivated to seek out more books more often for their children. The Negro Speaks of Rivers is a prayer everyone should experience at least once.
I'm including this read in my POC Challenge count.