Subtitled "The Story of America and African Americans," this illustrated book of a little over 100 pages is an informational overview of American history told from the viewpoint of a fictional African American grandmother, whose own grandfather was a slave.
In a note at the end, author/illustrator Kadir Nelson said, "I knew I could not convey the whole story in a hundred pages, so I felt the most natural and concise way to tell the tale would be through the recollections of a narrator whose family history was very closely tied to the American story." Nelson built real ancestors into the story, such as his Seminole great-great-grandmother.
The illustrations in this book are full-page or double-page paintings, and they are gorgeous. Nelson served as the model for many of the people in his illustrations.
Its length and amount of text, combined with its reading level (6th to 8th grade on various systems), make this book more suitable for upper elementary and middle school children. It's not a picture book; it's divided into short chapters. A timeline, bibliography, and index round out the book.
This book was honored with two 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the Author Award and an Illustrator Honor. Nelson won these same two awards in 2009 for We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. He won another Illustrator Honor in 2004, and was the Illustrator Award winner in 2007 and 2005.
© Amanda Pape - 2012
[This book was borrowed from and returned to the local public library.]