We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Published by Candlewick Press (2017)
Copy provided by Medina County District Library.
Summary on Book Depository: In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children’s literature’s top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg’s quest to correct history. Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro-Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.
Reasons Why You Should Read This Book:
For the sake of knowledge — Do you know who Arturo Schomburg is? If you haven’t heard about him, then be sure to grab a copy of this book and get to know the life of an avid book hunter and zealous researcher. Schomburg’s massive collection of books, arts, prints, and other accomplishments of African heritage can be found in the Harlem library (135th Street branch of the New York Public Library). The book includes a timeline of significant events in Schomburg’s life. This book is perfect for readers of all ages and a good resource for parents and teachers.
For the love of books — The life story of Arturo Schomburg is sure to fascinate book lovers, book hunters, and book collectors alike. Schomburg had what he called “the book hunting disease.” In his quest to discover as much as he could about his heritage and the contributions of his people, Schomburg searched the collections of rare book stores,
poring over fragile pamphlets with torn covers
and leather books with paper mites between the pages.
Stories within a story — Through lyrical verses, Carole Boston Weatherford not only told the life of Arturo Schomburg but also included vignettes of other historical figures who championed their causes. (Have you heard of Phillis Wheatley, the first African American and third American woman to have a book of poems published? What about Toussaint Louverture, a freed slave who risked everything to join a slave revolt? Did you know that John James Audubon was born to a Creole chambermaid, that Alexandre Dumas was descended from slaves, and that Beethoven had African roots? I could name other people who were mentioned in the book but I would leave that for you to discover. Carole Boston Weatherford followed Schomburg’s lifelong journey by providing a timeline of sort and highlighting the stories of his people.
Superb writing* and breathtaking illustrations — You can never go wrong with a book that was created by an author and illustrator who both excel in their fields. Carole Boston Weatherford has won the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book (Becoming Billie Holiday) and the Caldecott Honor Book Award (Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her people to Freedom). Eric Velasquez won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award (Grandma’s Gift).
*Some of my favorite verses:
If Harlem was the heart of African-American culture,
the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library was the mind.
If the library were a university, its alumni would include
the Harlem Renaissance figures who lost themselves
amid its stack and wrote in a quiet room downstairs.
There was no field of human endeavor
that he did not till with his determined hand,
that he did not sow with seeds of curiosity,
where he did not weed out lies and half-truths,
or that he did not water with a growing sense
of African awareness and heritage.