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

Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet

Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet

Spring 2013 Poetry
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Andrea Cheng
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
ISBN: 978-1600604515
Hardcover Price: $17.95

"Some day the world will read/my word etched in clay/on the side of this jar/and know about the shackles/around our legs/and the whips upon our backs./" They were individuals, those men, women and children owned by other men, women and children during this country's shameful history with slavery. Each had a story; few are known today. With eloquent simplicity, author Andrea Cheng tells of one of them: Dave, later known as David Drake. He was born into slavery, became a gifted potter and inscribed many of the creations that he made for his owner's stoneware pottery enterprise-collectors and museums have some surviving pieces-with his own words and poems, even his own name. He risked severe punishment to do so: South Carolina prohibited literacy among slaves. Inspired by this 19th century artisan's bravely etched inscriptions, Cheng gives voice to Dave's story and his proud and self-affirming act of defiance in a series of graceful poems, interwoven here and there with the potter's words and illustrated with her own poignant woodcuts.

Lynne Heffley   ©2013 Parents' Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper's first weekly children's arts and entertainment beat.

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