Bubber Goes to Heaven

Overview


Written by Arna Bontemps in the early 1930s, this highly original tale recounts ten-year old Bubber's hunting trip with his Uncle Demus gone awry. Scaling the boughs of a giant tree called Nebuchadnezzar in pursuit of a raccoon, Bubber accidentally breaks a branch and crashes to the ground. The rest of the story is Bubber's dream while lying unconscious on the forest floor. Lifted by the strong arms of a couple of angels, the little Southern boy is flown to Heaven, where he discovers that life is very much the ...
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Daniel Minter art New York/ Oxford 1998 Hardcover 1st Edition thus New in New jacket Book New, not a used book. Navy cloth spine & navy bds. No names, clean text. Unblemished ... dust jacket. "The Opie Library" edition. Intro: Jim Haskins. Afterword: Charles L. James. Giftworthy! 84 pgs 35691 CF shelf. Read more Show Less

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Overview


Written by Arna Bontemps in the early 1930s, this highly original tale recounts ten-year old Bubber's hunting trip with his Uncle Demus gone awry. Scaling the boughs of a giant tree called Nebuchadnezzar in pursuit of a raccoon, Bubber accidentally breaks a branch and crashes to the ground. The rest of the story is Bubber's dream while lying unconscious on the forest floor. Lifted by the strong arms of a couple of angels, the little Southern boy is flown to Heaven, where he discovers that life is very much the same as on Earth, except that everyone wears long nightgowns and sports wings. Not one to be left behind, Bubber grows wings and struggles to fly, joins Sister Esther's church band, discovers the joys of unlimited free food, and meets one of Heaven's finest. When he finally regains consciousness, he finds himself back in his bed at home, surrounded by Uncle Demus and other anxious members of his family. Yet he could still hear Sister Esther and the youngsters cheering him on, "Keep a-flapping your wings, Bubber, Bubber."
This previously unpublished children's book showcases the full range of Arna Bontemps prodigious talent. The gentle lyricism and delicate humor of the story combine with the Alabama locale, biblical references, folk heritage, and a faithful recreation of the Deep South black dialect to produce a richly personal narrative. Bubber's story, an early predecessor of Bontemps acclaimed children's literary classic --Lonesome Boy--is an honest, memorable picture of black Southern life, recreating its full-blooded vitality, close family ties, strong connection with the land and countryside, deeply ingrained superstitions and religious beliefs. The author also succeeds in subtly relaying the problems and concerns dominating the black experience. The little boy's dream of Heaven is a veiled yearning for a better life, for "the promised land" where all his troubles disappear, justice prevails, everybody has work, children of different races play and sing together, and hard times are gone for good. Elegantly illustrated by Brooklyn-based artist Daniel Minter, Bubber Goes to Heaven is a sensitive, resonant tale in the great tradition of oral storytelling.

Knocked unconscious by a fall from a tree, ten-year-old Bubber dreams that two angels come down and take him up to Heaven, where he has trouble learning to fly with his new wings and has wonderful adventures.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A previously unpublished story with the sound and sense of a 1930s folktale... The apparatus surrounding the story--an introduction by James Haskins and afterword by Charles I. James--clearly explains Bontemps's life and work, and places this story in the context of his scholarly career as an anthologist, collaborator, teacher, and librarian."--Kirkus Reviews

"Writing for children at a time when there were few books written by blacks for black children, Arna Bontemps is remembered as one of the great pioneer African-American poets.... We are blessed to have this remarkably sensitive portrayal of youth that also provides an image of African-American life in 1930s Alabama.... Dreams are made from stories like this one."--The Bloomsbury Review

"A first-rate rural idyll, with some lovely illustrations... The sort of high-quality book of primarily literary interest that trade publishers are increasingly leaving to the tender ministrations of university presses, to the advantage of the latter."--Palm Beach Post

"Charming... This delightful volume for young readers preserves the language and customs of a society that is disappearing in our lifetime."--USA Today

"Bontemps brings to life the period vernacular of the south through the lively characters he portrays... Children nine and up will be delighted."--Black Issues Book Review

School Library Journal
Gr 3-4-A previously unpublished story, written in the 1930s and set in the Deep South. When Bubber falls from a tree while coon hunting, the boy finds himself in heaven. Yet, the heaven in which Bontemps places Bubber is closer to the reality of the youngster's life on earth than the traditional idealized paradise. He forgets his speech at the Sunday School play, and even though he has wings, he cannot fly. A fall from Sister Esther's heavenly roof brings the boy back to reality. When he recognizes Uncle Demus and learns that he has two broken legs, he thinks that he has had a vision. Bontemps's fantasy is culturally rich and includes a lot of historical references, e.g., the angel who "resembled very closely the large black woman whose picture Bubber had seen on boxes of pancake flour." However, the Southern black dialect lacks consistency; some "th" words are mispronounced while others are not, and some, but not all, vowel sounds are dropped. The dialect and grammar will be difficult for some children and offensive to others, e.g., "I went to say I wants some oranges mighty bad, but I ain't got no money to buy none with." Minter's linoleum-print illustrations add a sense of time and place. The afterword is inappropriate for the audience, but will be of interest to adults. A book best suited to historical collections of children's literature.-Marie Wright, University Library, Indianapolis, IN Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From Bontemps (with Langston Hughes, The Pasteboard Bandit, 1997, etc.), a previously unpublished story with the sound and sense of a 1930s folktale. Bubber falls out of a tree while hunting with his uncle, and finds himself in heaven. It's similar to what he knows of Earth, except that angels keep everything scrubbed clean, every day is Sunday, there is plentiful food, and Sister Esther helps him when his new-growing wings itch and ache. In the children's pageant in heaven, the angel children get to portray people from all ages and times. Bubber eventually wakes up to discover that it was all a dream. Minter notes that the black Southern dialect, which recalled his own Southern youth, inspired him to create wood-block and linoleum-block prints of black angels, not as individual figures but as stylized characters; these are powerful images that transcend stereotypes. The tale itself is a period piece. The apparatus surrounding the story-an introduction by James Haskins and afterword by Charles I. James-clearly explains Bontemps's life and work, and places this story in the context of his scholarly career as an anthologist, collaborator, teacher, and librarian; the volume may be more meaningful to an adult researcher than to a young reader. (Fiction. 11+) .
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Product Details

Meet the Author

About the author:
Arna Bontemps (1902-1973) was born in Louisiana and grew up in California. He moved to New York City in 1923, and it was there that he met Langston Hughes and other Harlem Renaissance writers. A major African-American poet, Bontemps is also credited with popularizing black folklore and literature through his anthologies and his children's stories. He was a historian, librarian, and teacher at the University of Chicago and Fisk University.

About the illustrator:
Daniel Minter is originally from a small town in Georgia. He attended the Art Institute of Atlanta, and has been working as an artist in various media. Mr. Minter has exhibited in the United States and abroad. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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