Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

3.7 7
by Kadir Nelson
     
 

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The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their

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Overview

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs.

Kadir Nelson, one of this generation’s most accomplished, award-winning artists, has created an epic yet intimate introduction to the history of America and African Americans, from colonial days through the civil rights movement. Written in the voice of an “Everywoman,” an unnamed narrator whose forebears came to this country on slave ships and who lived to cast her vote for the first African American president, heart and soul touches on some of the great transformative events and small victories of that history. This inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As in We Are the Ship, Nelson knits together the nation's proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama. He handles this vast subject with easy grace, aided by the voice of a grandmotherly figure who's an amalgam of voices from Nelson's own family. She does not gloss over the sadness and outrage of her family's history, but her patient, sometimes weary tone ("The law didn't do a thing to stop it," she says about the Ku Klux Klan. "Shoot, some of the men wearing the sheets were lawmen") makes listeners feel the quiet power that survival requires. In jaw-dropping portraits that radiate determination and strength, Nelson paints heroes like Frederick Douglass and Joe Louis, conferring equal dignity on the slaves, workers, soldiers, and students who made up the backbone of the African-American community. The images convey strength and integrity as he recounts their contributions, including "the most important idea ever introduced to America by an African American"—Dr. King's nonviolent protest. A tremendous achievement. Ages 9–up. (Aug.)
Booklist (starred review)
Nelson…adds to his notable titles with this powerful view of African American history. Illustrated with 44 full-page paintings, this handsome volume is told in the fictionalized, informal voice of an African American senior looking back on her life and remembering what her elders told her.
Horn Book (starred review)
Nelson effectively creates a voice that is at once singular and representative. A tour de force in the career of an author/artist who continues to outdo himself.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Taking on the history of African Americans can seem a daunting task, but Nelson does so succinctly, informatively, and clearly. He conveys that African Americans have not been on the periphery of American history, but rather have been an integral and important part of it. The reader learns the history through the voice of an elderly woman. Each chapter comes alive through stories of her family members and other individuals. They are intertwined with the painful difficulties and the achievements gained since the 1600s. The twelve chapter headings and quotes were carefully chosen. They provide a preview of the chapter and can even be sources of discussion. Among the chapters are: "Declaration of Independence," "Lincoln's War," "Black Innovation," and the final chapter called "Revolution." The Prologue and Epilogue round out the book and provide cohesion. Using the large format of WE ARE THE SHIP, every turn of the page offers a dramatic illustration. Nelson is a master of portraiture. Here, portraits of individuals and groups give insights into the character of the individuals and beg to be studied. The final illustration in the book is entitled "Voting poll, Chicago, 2008" and shows strong black hands holding a pin that reads, "I VOTED." It sums up the history and pride that unfolds here, beckons the reader to pause and contemplate, and captures the title of the book. Inviting in both text and illustration, this is a must for every library, and would also make a beautiful gift. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
VOYA - Suzanne Osman
A sumptuous feast of exquisite oil paintings and compelling text, Nelson's newest literary gift dazzles the senses, awakens the mind, and inspires emotion as it teaches readers about the historical experience of African Americans. Each short, simple chapter is poetically narrated by a feisty unnamed black woman. A collection of luscious paintings, so realistic one might mistake some of them for photographs, accompany the text. The book starts with how African Americans fought in the American Revolution to help free America from England, but in the end "we were stuck in a country that kept most of us as slaves." Next, Nelson writes about the horrendous conditions of slavery, Harriet Tubman's heroism, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration, Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, the Tuskegee Airmen, Jim Crow laws, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few. The book ends with President Lyndon Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964. The topics are not new, but pulling them all together in one comprehensive historical stream feels fresh and helps the past come alive. History has never been taught so clearly. This would be an excellent book to share with teens who think they are not interested in history. Gazing at the stunning pictures and reading about the fascinating historical details written in such a straightforward yet powerful manner should cure anyone of historical apathy. The book includes a handy time line, bibliography, and index. Reviewer: Suzanne Osman
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—Expanding his focus from the close-up view of history applied in previous books, Nelson uses his formidable skills for the larger landscape: the black experience in America from slavery to the presidency. Like most surveys, the book is organized by struggles and wars; unlike traditional overviews, the facts are filtered through the eyes of a black woman with attitude to spare. This invented narrator, whose "Pap" was kidnapped as a child in Africa and whose brothers fought in World War II, does not suffer fools. Her colloquial commentary, addressed to "honey" or "chile," introduces and interprets the events. Occasionally her voice drops out, and a more textbooklike tone prevails, but mostly her presence provides the heart and soul of the story; readers will care about this information because they care about her. Nelson's oil portraits and tableaux consistently display technical virtuosity, drama, and dignity. From single-page compositions of historical personalities (Frederick Douglass, Joe Louis, Rosa Parks) and representative characters (a Revolutionary War soldier, students at Woolworth's) to full-spread, murallike scenes of a slave ship, a battle, a big band, Nelson varies the viewpoint and contrasts light and darkness to tell a riveting tale. The purpose is presented in the prologue and recast in the epilogue and author's note: "You have to know where you came from so you can move forward." Provocative and powerful, this book offers a much-needed perspective for individuals of all ages seeking to understand America's past and present.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Walter Dean Myers
This latest book by Kadir Nelson…announces its ambition with its title. This is a grand and awe-inspiring survey of the black experience in America, delivered in 108 pages with lushly painted illustrations…The images are typical Nelson, depicting his subjects with strength and dignity…And the book offers page after page of American history in a way that welcomes young readers to stand beside the historical figures and be part of their story.
—The New York Times Book Review
Horn Book
Nelson effectively creates a voice that is at once singular and representative. A tour de force in the career of an author/artist who continues to outdo himself.
Booklist
Nelson…adds to his notable titles with this powerful view of African American history. Illustrated with 44 full-page paintings, this handsome volume is told in the fictionalized, informal voice of an African American senior looking back on her life and remembering what her elders told her.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061730740
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/27/2011
Pages:
108
Sales rank:
170,521
Product dimensions:
11.30(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
1050L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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