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April 06, 2007

Something to shout about

Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon
by Ruth Forman; illustrations by Cbabi Bayoc

What better way to kick off National Poetry Month (okay, in a few days) than with this boombox of a poem about two young sisters in South Philly's summer heat?

These African American kids don't dwell on what they lack, except to note there's no yard to play in. But with cheery shrugs, they move right along to what they do have:

we hold mamma knees when she snaps the naps out
we got gramma tell her not to pull so hard

we got sooo clean cornrows when she finish
n corn bread cool on the stove

I seriously felt all tingly as I read this, and I swear my foot started tapping. It's more than rhythmic, it's sonic.  It's upbeat and celebratory, zeroing in on the magic they create for themselves, a pulsating paean to childhood from two irrepressible city kids.

Bayoc's paintings are as smartly hued and loud as I imagine the poem to be: his colors shout with the same unrestrained glee. His hands-up, big-smile girls are a study in exhuberance, done in quick, broad brushstrokes that's as layered as the text.

Rating: *\*\*\*\


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Something to shout about


This sounds like a very fun book. Love the title.

Thanks--this is a smaller publisher that specializes in multi-cultural offerings, and it feels like a real discovery for me.

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