Friday, May 6, 2011

Children's Book Review: Dave the Potter, Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill

  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031610731X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316107310 
  • Buy now at Amazon.


To us
it is just dirt,
the ground we walk on...
But to Dave
it was clay,
the plain and basic stuff
upon which he formed a life
as a slave nearly 200 years ago.

Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s. He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved onto his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave. In this inspiring and lyrical portrayal, National Book Award nominee Laban Carrick Hill's elegantly simple text and award-winning artist Bryan Collier's resplendent, earth-toned illustrations tell Dave's story, a story rich in history, hope, and long-lasting beauty.

My Review:

This is a story about a real person, Dave the Potter, who was a black slave who lived in SC in the 1800's.  He was a gifted artist and potter and through this book, we learn about his craft of creating clay pots.  Dave would not only date each pot, but he would also inscribe his pots with whimsical short poems.  The book celebrates "the power of the human spirit, artistry, and truth, and that cannot be silenced by bondage of any kind."

When reading this book to your children, you can decide on how you want to discuss the slavery aspect of Dave's life.  For the most part, this book focuses on the painstaking art of his pottery.  The book also includes a section at the end that deals with the slavery aspect and additional resources you can use when talking to your child about slavery.

Overall, I just loved the beautiful illustrations and the short poems that were included in the story. It is nice to see books above real people written for children.  Not only will they enjoy a nicely told true story, but it will offer you a talking point about slavery, if you are children are learning about this in school or ask you about it.

About the Author:

Laban Carrick Hill is the author of more than thirty books, including the 2004 National Book Award Finalist Harlem Stomp!, a book he researched for nearly a decade, and America Dreaming, which examines the legacy of the 1960s. He has taught writing at Columbia University, Baruch College, and St. Michael's College and is currently teaching at the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, based in the US and Ghana.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

1 comment :

  1. Wonderful kids book and its has 40 pages and all of them entertain to kids thanks for share it personal statement for rheumatology fellowship .