Amazing Faces

Amazing Faces

by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Chris K. Soentpiet

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Now in paperback, an anthology of universal poems focusing on the human experience—emotions, perceptions, and understandings—as expressed by poets of diverse heritage and reflected in illustrations featuring people of all ages and backgrounds.See more details below

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Now in paperback, an anthology of universal poems focusing on the human experience—emotions, perceptions, and understandings—as expressed by poets of diverse heritage and reflected in illustrations featuring people of all ages and backgrounds.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The focus of this excellent collection of disparate poems is not strictly faces but people. The poems—contributed by writers such as Joseph Bruchac, Nikki Grimes, Pat Mora, and Jane Yolen—include character sketches, vignettes, and descriptions of people from all over multicultural America. Soentpiet’s (Saturdays and Teacakes) astonishing watercolors unify the book’s theme as he concentrates each illustration on the faces of Americans who live in both small towns and cities. His paintings are lifelike, full of shadows and depth, and astonishingly precise. They allow readers to see a variety of emotional scenes, featuring a Native American storyteller, a soldier returning home, an insouciant Mexican-American girl, a firefighter, flirting teenagers, and a busy street in Chinatown. Especially noteworthy is Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s opening poem, “Amazing Face,” a touching portrait of a parent’s hopes for a new baby (“Amazing, your face./ It shows you will watch from a window,/ whisper to a friend,/ ride a carousel...”). The ending reveals a sea of faces and fireworks to accompany Langston Hughes’s “My People,” a fitting celebration of Americans in all their diversity. Ages 6-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The emotions evoked in the sixteen well-crafted poems collected here are clearly echoed in the faces Soentpiet paints in his double-page illustrations. A diversity of ages, sexes, and ethnic backgrounds are represented. Kim Mak recalls falling asleep beside his mother as she sews on her machine twelve hours a day in Chinatown. A young African American girl does everything in "Me x 2" twice in English and Spanish. Nikki Grimes remembers a teacher who was able to make her "unhappy thoughts/Scamper away." We meet a football hero, a returning soldier, a brave firefighter, a Native American storyteller, a beloved abuela, and a karate kid. As detailed as colored photographs, these naturalistic watercolors add information about their subjects as they clearly reflect and enhance the expressions of the poems. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—"You can read many things in her face," says Joseph Bruchac in describing Aunt Molly Sky, a venerable Native American storyteller. Aunt Molly is one of 16 people, varied in age and ethnicity, whose everyday lives are reflected in this picture-book anthology. Faces figure prominently in some poems as Hopkins and Soentpiet celebrate America's diversity. "Amazing Face" belongs to a chortling Asian baby who is addressed by a blond mother, and the concluding poem, Langston Hughes's "My People," is paired with a multiracial crowd waving flags in a city fireworks scene. Some of the voices and warm watercolor portraits are necessarily specific—Chinatown's child who lives "above Good Fortune/where they catch crabs fresh" or "Latina, abuela, she is everyone/of us come from otherwhere." Some experiences—dreams, loneliness, the heroism of a returning soldier or a smoke-smudged firefighter—are universal. Varied in shape, each poem is set on an ivory half-page next to a broad scene—sometimes a single child, other times a small group or an energetic crowd. This appealing package of poetry and ideas will be enjoyed by children, parents, and teachers. There are many bits to savor, and the underlying theme is so well executed that it could easily stimulate interest in finding more people in poems.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews
Faces and the emotions they reveal are the focus for this appealing but uneven poetry collection. Some selections, like the poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich that looks ahead to a baby's possible life experiences or Prince Redcloud's brief but moving description of a young soldier's return home, are decidedly adult in tone. Others, like Nikki Grimes's endearing portrait of a caring teacher or the wistful musings of a young boy ignored by his classmates from Jude Mandell, will be accessible to much younger readers and listeners. Still others feel a bit forced, as if they are trying too hard to fit the designated theme, or, worse, seem out of place entirely. Luckily, Soentpiet's light-filled portraits and charming crowd scenes bring the characters and settings to life. Realistic, if somewhat idealized, the watercolor illustrations also provide a strong sense of continuity even as they showcase individuals from a variety of cultures. Undeniably attractive and potentially useful in a classroom setting but ultimately less than the sum of its parts, this collection may struggle to find an appreciative audience. (Poetry. 7-10)

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Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.10(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

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