From the Publisher
" The storytelling is dramatic and direct in this collection of 19 tales... The Dillon's glowingly detailed acrylic illustrations extend the horror, comedy, rhythm, and spirit of the tales." Booklist - starred review
"...these are tales to be read over and over again." - PW - starred review
".. It's hard to envision the shelf- children's or adult - on which this volume doesn't belong." - Kirkus pointer review
"Virginia Hamilton and the Dillons have produced yet another superb offering.. The book is a gallery of beautiful women of color. Entrancing and important, this notable colloaboration desrves a wide success." - SLJ- starred review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The distinguished creators of The People Could Fly and Many Thousand Gone return for this striking collection of 17 tales, each featuring an African American woman or girl as the main character.
True stories, ghost stories, folk legends, classic fairy tales, tall tales and more indicate the breadth of African American cultural traditions. Retold from a variety of sources, the stories flow smoothly in Hamilton's expertly measured prose. The full-color illustrations, one per story, are lush and detailed, like the Dillons' work in Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch. In a handsome oversize format, the book itself reflects unusually high production values. Text and art are laid against a buff background in a sophisticated but uncrowded page design, and the volume is bound with an unusually heavy casing. It will need that sturdiness, for these are tales to be read over and over again. Ages 6-up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This is a stunning collection made even more spectacular with the poignant illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. Hamilton takes children through animal and supernatural tales, biography and legend with a range of telling that is as diverse and powerful as the stories told.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A compelling account of African American women in twenty stories divided into five sections, many of which come from oral traditions and are quite varied. However, the unifying theme, as the title suggests, is the focus on women. These women are clever, funny, poignant, brave, and full of life. There is something for everyone in this collection. The Dillions' superb acrylic paintings, including numerous full pages, smaller inserts, and a truly beautiful cover, combine to provide a feast for the eyes that reflects a real harmony between author and illustrators. Winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and a Coretta Scott King Award.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up--Nineteen marvelous selections retold by a master storyteller. Whether magical, eerie, comic, or touching, the tales are aptly served by the gorgeous, glowing acrylic paintings. (Nov. 1995)
The storytelling is dramatic and direct in this collection of 19 tales about African American females, beautifully retold by Hamilton in a wide variety of simple, colloquial voices and styles.
"There was this glory-looking young girl in the times when animals talked. She was Lena, beauty."
Animal tales, "pourquoi" tales, tales of the supernatural, legends, tall tales, and factual accounts are gathered in a large-size volume designed for group sharing, with big, clear type and wide margins. The stories also leave lots of space; the endings leave you wondering.
The Dillons' glowingly detailed acrylic illustrations extend the horror, comedy, rhythm, and spirit of the tales, ranging from the glamour of the mermaid to the creepy terror of the Cat Woman to the legendary power of Annie Christmas, who was "coal black and tree tall."
As in Hamilton's exquisite collection The People Could Fly (1985), the notes on the stories -- where they came from, how they traveled and changed, what they mean -- are as fascinating as the tales themselves. Reading about women who labored "from dayclean to daylean" and who made up stories in the great, lonesome night will inspire many young people to read more about folklore and to collect stories from family and community.
Older readers may want to read this collection with Goss' new adult collection Jump Up and Say!.