Fatherhood is celebrated with honor, humor, and grace in this intergenerational collection of poetry by new and established African-American writers. The book testifies to the powerful bond between father and child, with a profound message to people everywhere that family is the greatest gift and that fathers are among the most influential heroes. Twelve outstanding poems come to life through the spirited artwork of Javaka Steptoe.
"When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him." This simple, yet potentially double-edged Ashanti proverb begins Javaka Steptoe's picture-book debut, a powerful collection of poems celebrating African American fathers, by new and established African American writers. Breathtaking, evocative mixed-media spreads--bedecked with beads, burlap, and buttons--earned Steptoe's brilliant collection the 1998 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and the 1997 Reading Magic Award. A full-time artist and art teacher, Steptoe is the son of the late John Steptoe, also an acclaimed children's book artist. Regarding the process of creating the book, Steptoe says, "I was able to think about my father and how he affected me, and how I affected him, and give something to him by honoring his memory."
One selection, "Black Father Man" by Lenard D. Moore, begins, "Black Father Man, / the supreme earth dweller. / We are his ripe black crop / at the beginning-of-the-harvest. / We all bleed his blood / summer-hot and thick / summer-hot and thick / as unstrained milk. / Black Father Man, / the word-music messenger." Steptoe's accompanying artwork depicts men planting seeds and children growing, using actual dirt, leaves, seeds, paint, and cut paper to communicate the regenerative "we are his ripe black crop" spirit of the poem. In Folami Abiade's title poem, readers will soar high with the boy in his father's arms: "I am big and strong & proud like him / in daddy's arms / my daddy." Other contributors--including Carole Boston Weatherford, Michael Burgess, Davida Adedjouma (editor of The Palm of My Heart), and more--add humor and power to this extraordinary tribute to fatherhood. (All ages)