Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children's Picture Books, 1845-2002

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Brown Gold is a compelling history and analysis of African-American children's picturebooks from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. At the turn of the nineteenth century, good children's books about black life were hard to find — if, indeed, young black readers and their parents could even gain entry into the bookstores and libraries. But today, in the "Golden Age" of African-American children's picturebooks, one can find a wealth of titles ranging from Happy to be Nappy to Black is Brown is Tan. In this book, Michelle Martin explores how the genre has evolved from problematic early works such as Epaminondas that were rooted in minstrelsy and stereotype, through the civil rights movement, and onward to contemporary celebrations of blackness. She demonstrates the cultural importance of contemporary favorites through keen historical analysis — scrutinizing the longevity and proliferation of the Coontown series and Ten Little Niggers books, for example — that makes clear how few picturebooks existed in which black children could see themselves and their people positively represented even up until the 1960s. Martin also explores how children's authors and illustrators have addressed major issues in black life and history including racism, the civil rights movement, black feminism, major historical figures, religion, and slavery. Brown Gold adds new depth to the reader's understanding of African-American literature and culture, and illuminates how the round, dynamic characters in these children's novels, novellas, and picturebooks can put a face on the past, a face with which many contemporary readers can identify.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Leila Toledo
Reading this book is quite difficult. Not because of the complexity of the content but because the author presents information about children's books that were written during the mid-nineteenth century that alienated black readers because the stories ridiculed them and made them the butt of jokes. Most of the books written during this period were written by whites and were for whites. It was not until the Harlem Renaissance that writers, like Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, began to pay attention to books for children. By the 1960s a new era emerged featuring children's books about the black experience. Credit needs to be given to librarians, who began to insist on positive children literature for black children, as well as the arrival of the Black Art Movement, black authors, illustrators, and publishers dedicated to writing children's books. Because of roadblocks erected by main stream publishers, people like Cheryl and Wade Hudson emerged. They founded Just Us Books and have successfully published children's books with positive African-American images. Michelle Martin has given us an understanding of African-American literature and culture and that how it is presented can influence who we are and how we think of ourselves. From the "Children's Literature and Culture" series.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michelle H. Martin is Assistant Professor of English at Clemson University. She is coeditor of Sexual Pedagogies: Sex Education in Britain, Australia, and America, 1879-2000.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Hey, Who's the Kid with the Green Umbrella?": Re-evaluating the Black-a-Moor and Little Black Sambo
Chapter 2: Children's Picture Books and the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 3: Three Decades of Strong Women: the Coretta Scott King Awards
Chapter 4: From Margin to Center: African-American Illustrators at Work
Chapter 5: Historical America through the Eyes of the Black Child
Chapter 6: "Everybody Say Amen": Signifying and Postmodern African-American Picture Books
Chapter 7: "Just Build me a Cabin in the Corner of Glory Land": Bridges to Heaven in African-American Picturebooks
Chapter 8: "They stole my Name": Historical Fiction and the Slave Narrative

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