Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Ellington Was Not a Street

Ellington Was Not a Street

Fall 2004 Picture Books
Ages: All Ages
Author: Ntozake Shange
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
ISBN: 0-689-82884-5
Hardcover Price: $15.95
Read this one twice, once for the pictures, once for the words. A beautiful book about the loss of community and memory among young African Americans, it works subtly and effectively. Monuments are poor substitutes for real memories and Shange’s words are neither bitter nor preachy. Kadir Nelson has long been one of the great children’s book illustrators and his work here is no exception. The historical figures in this book are drawn with care and love. Looking at the pictures you want to talk to the author and ask her about the past. It is a dinner party with some of the black men and one black woman who changed history. The reader is enriched by attending. Highly recommended for all ages. This book could, I think, frustrate younger readers who don’t know the people in the book. If you plan to read it to younger kids, read the source notes in the back first.
Drego Little   ©2004 Parents' Choice
Drego Little is a graduate student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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