Reviews for Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry : A Jean Karl Book

Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
Exuberant, vibrant paintings illustrate this imaginative alphabet book designed to introduce readers to twenty-six African-American poets, both early (Paul Laurence Dunbar, Countee Cullen) and contemporary (Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton). Each page contains a meaningful fragment or short selection from a poem. Moods range from humorous to dramatic to philosophical to contemplative. Bib. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

School Library Journal Reviews 1997 September
The alphabet takes a back seat to the poetry and is lightheartedly wrestled into compliance as an organizational device in this exultant celebration of African-American writers. Each full-page entry features a short poem or poem fragment, surrounded by Bryan's vivid tempera and gouache paintings. To make this work as an alphabet book, the artist often takes the featured letter from a word within the poem, sometimes even a letter within a word (for "X," "Without eXpectation/there is no end/to the shock of morning/or even a small summer" from Audre Lorde's "Summer Oracle"). The letter is set off at the top and the poet's name fills the bottom frame of the painting. The selections, many of which will be unfamiliar to children, display a loving acquaintance with poets from James Weldon Johnson to Rita Dove. While there is a full range of emotions, joy and pride predominate. Some pieces will elicit appreciative chuckles, even a guffaw or two. An acknowledgments page lists the source of each selection. This marvelous introduction should inspire many readers to seek out other works by these writers. While the format and the lively illustrations mark this as a children's book, the pleasure that both word and picture will give to involved adults will enhance the shared experience. Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews