Reviews for Sugar Hill : Harlem's Historic Neighborhood

Booklist Reviews 2014 February #1
With spare text and minimalist illustrations, Weatherford and Christie pay fine tribute to the tradition of artistic expression that bloomed during the Harlem Renaissance. Each page turn reveals a luminary of the scene with just a single line of text that gracefully sums up his or her contribution. Although more likely to appeal to nostalgic adults than young readers, this could be a valuable addition to classrooms and libraries. It could be used, for example, to introduce children to the names and work of Zora Neale Hurston, Faith Ringgold, Miles Davis, and many others, showing young readers how the artists of that era were also activists and how that affected the children living there: "Sugar Hill, Sugar Hill / where life is sweet / and kids play stickball in the street. / Where DuBois outlines social tracts / and Thurgood Marshall plots legal attacks." More than anything, this is about a caring community where cultural pride and the possibility of dreams not deferred ran gloriously rampant. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
"Sugar Hill, Sugar Hill where life is sweet" repeats throughout this rhymed tribute to Harlem's storied neighborhood, home of many well-to-do African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance, including Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, Thurgood Marshall, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Christie's pastel-hued illustrations and Weatherford's poetry give a strong sense of vibrant simultaneous action, and neither slides into nostalgia.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #3
"Sugar Hill, Sugar Hill where life is sweet" repeats throughout this rhymed tribute to Harlem's storied neighborhood, the home of many well-to-do African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century. Although we are told about the "doctors and lawyers [who] live next door / to the owners of a corner store," most of the book focuses on some of Sugar Hill's most famous residents, particularly those who lived there during the Harlem Renaissance, such as Paul Robeson, Aaron Douglas, Lena Horne, Thurgood Marshall, and W.E.B. Du Bois. We also see Faith Ringgold as a child, with a visual reference to Tar Beach that many children will recognize. Some of Christie's pastel-hued illustrations show us street views of the neighborhood and, through windows, offer glimpses into people's lives (e.g., one picture shows Count Basie and Duke Ellington making music together while across the street we see Zora Neale Hurston working at her typewriter). The paintings and Weatherford's poetry give a strong sense of vibrant simultaneous action, and neither slides into nostalgia. An author's note provides some additional background on Sugar Hill, as well as a few lines about each of the famous people mentioned in the book. kathleen t. hornin Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews 2014 January #2
Weatherford's poetic, swinging textual rhythms meet Christie's artistic razzmatazz to create one hot picture book. A historic and cultural tour of Harlem's famous neighborhood, the book drops names aplenty. Miles Davis, Lena Horne, Zora Neale Hurston, Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B. Du Bois, among others, all lived and thrived in this center of African-American life and art—a place that has also always nurtured black children into productive lives through the arts, literature, and the love and attention of caring adults. Sparsely detailed but action-packed, Christie's illustrations echo the lives of the star-studded cast of characters. Faith Ringgold's page, for instance, features the Brooklyn Bridge and a young girl who could just as easily be Cassie from Ringgold's Tar Beach (1991) as the young Ringgold herself. The backmatter offers biographical blurbs that emphasize the longitudinal impact this neighborhood has had on Harlem and on the nation; birthdates begin in 1868 (Du Bois) and end in the present with those who are still producing art today (Sonny Rollins, the "Saxophone Colossus," and Ringgold, both 82 years old at the time of this review). A fine tribute to the local color of Sugar Hill, who have made America a better and more interesting country for almost a century. (Informational picture book. 7-9) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 November #4

Christie's handsome paintings of Harlem's Sugar Hill neighborhood bring warmth to Weatherford's catalogue of the African-American artists who lived there in the 1920s and '30s. Weatherford's bouncy verse establishes a backbeat ("Sugar Hill, Sugar Hill where life is sweet,/ And the ‘A' train stops for the black elite") as Christie (who collaborated with the author on Dear Mr. Rosenwald) paints small figures dwarfed by the iron girders of the elevated train line and old-fashioned, flat-roofed apartment buildings. Through uncurtained windows, readers see grandmothers and grandchildren in quiet sitting rooms and revelers dancing late into the night ("Where grand townhomes lend river views,/ and parties swing to jazz and blues"). Some of Sugar Hill's illustrious residents may be new to readers ("Where Robeson puts down roots a while/ and Sonny Rollins hangs with Miles"); an author's note and "who's who" section provide more information. Tranquil scenes of sidewalk life--Lena Horne out strolling in a big hat, small groups gathered in front of store windows--commemorate a neighborhood whose residents were prosperous and secure. This portrait of a community of color that cherished its artists will inspire readers. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2014 February

Gr 2-4--This lyrical tribute to the New York City historic district so central to the Harlem Renaissance pays homage to such notable African Americans as Faith Ringgold, W. E. B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, and Miles Davis. "Sugar Hill, Sugar Hill where life is sweet/And the "A" train stops for the black elite.…Where Duke and Count plunk out new tunes/and Zora spins stories by the moon.…Where grown-ups lift the young ones high/and give them wings to touch the sky." Weatherford's words celebrate the people and the neighborhood where black culture blossomed in the '20s and '30s. Friendly, well-dressed neighbors dance and swing or discuss new ideas while children play stickball, visit the library, and are lifted up by their elders. Christie's signature paintings-bold and simple-capture the excitement and energy of the place and time. An author's note and "who's who" provide background information on the neighborhood and its accomplished inhabitants. Pair this perfect read-aloud introduction to the Harlem Renaissance with Bryan Collier's Uptown (Holt, 2000) to inspire students to write and illustrate their own neighborhood poems.--Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

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