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School Library Journal
Expanding on her groundbreaking work, Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children's Literature (NCTE, 1982), Bishop traces the evolution of fiction written for black children and by black authors and illustrators within the context of African-American social and literary history. The author begins with an overview of pre-1900s writing and stories, including examples of destructive stereotypical behavior and language of black characters generally written by whites, to set the stage. Bishop explores the call by W.E.B. Du Bois for the creation of original material for the children's periodical The Brownies' Book , whose contributors included Langston Hughes, capturing the drive of these social activists and educators to create a body of literature that was guided by explicit values as well as an underlying ideology-"for Black children to recognize themselves as normal, to learn black history, and to recognize their own potential . . . ." Bishop contrasts these goals with the prevailing norm in mainstream children's books. In the concluding third of the book, she investigates modern literature by profiling contemporary writers and illustrators such as Lucille Clifton, Nikki Grimes, Rita Garcia Williams, Virginia Hamilton, Tom Feelings, Ashley Bryan, Jerry Pinkney, and Kadir Nelson. Her writing is precise and engaging, and it really comes alive when presenting primary-source material. One example is a debate in Publisher's Weekly in 1941-1942 about the controversial use of "Negro dialect," especially by white writers. She provides an extensive bibliography for further exploration. Librarians as well as teachers will be enriched by thiswork.-Lisa Von Drasek, Bank Street College Library, NYCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.