Note to Readers

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

I, Too, Am America - Langston Hughes

Released May 2012

Langston Hughes
Bryan Collier
Simon and Schuster

Book Review by Bob Walch

Using a subtle stars-and-stripes American flag motif throughout this picture book, illustrator Bryan Collier explains that this iconic image “acts as a metaphor for the growth of our people in this country, almost invisible during the Pullman porter’s time but bolder and stronger toward the end, no longer invisible and ignored.”

What Collier is alluding to is the subject of this very short but powerful poem that never specifies a given occupation, although it does obviously  allude to how African-Americans were treated for many decades.

Collier uses the late Langston Hughes' poem for his book’s text but sets the lines against a background that focuses on the Pullman porters of the past and how they performed their jobs with dignity and courage. You’ll see how, in the book, the porters collect reading materials left behind on the trains and then pass them on to members of their community thus becoming informal distributors of knowledge.

The strength of this book lies in the illustrations and how they create a thoughtful backdrop for this poem. Both youngsters and adults will find this a thought provoking book. 

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