By Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Simon & Schuster
May 2012 / ISBN 9781442420083
Picture book, poetry (ages 4 and up)
by Bob Walch
too, sing America. / I am the darker brother. / They send me to
eat in the kitchen when company comes. / But I laugh, and eat well.
/ And grow strong." This is how this short, powerful poem
by Langston Hughes begins. Bryan Collier uses this poem to evoke
images of the Pullman porters of a bygone time and how they performed
their jobs with courage and dignity. Although he writes of an era
when social injustice and unfair treatment were still common occurrences,
Hughes leaves the poem "open ended" and doesn't necessarily
intend to reference any specific members of the African-American
community of his time.
uses the text of this poem to create a picture book, which brings
together fleeting glimpses of southern cotton fields and big city
tenements with a passenger train traveling through these dissimilar
but related environments. Along the way the porters collect materials
left by the passengers and disseminate them to members of the black
communities the trains pass through.
his artistic interpretation of Hughes' poem, Collier says, "This
represents how far African-Americans have come in this country since
the Pullman porters' time, and even since Hughes's time, and how
bright our future can be."
poem and a series of large, full color illustrations make this a
book that not only children but also adults will enjoy looking at
and owning. If you are a Langston Hughes fan you'll definitely want
to purchase this book.