I Saw Your Face

Overview

Before Tom Feelings passed away in August of 2003, he had been working on a picture book with his friend, poet Kwame Dawes. As Kwame explains, "One day, Tom gave me a folder of drawings of young people from his journeys around the world. I saw a story of resilience and pride, and wrote my poem as a response." These wonderful drawings, paired with lyrical text, offer a fresh encounter with one of our most evocative illustrators.

A poem and portraits of children ...

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Overview

Before Tom Feelings passed away in August of 2003, he had been working on a picture book with his friend, poet Kwame Dawes. As Kwame explains, "One day, Tom gave me a folder of drawings of young people from his journeys around the world. I saw a story of resilience and pride, and wrote my poem as a response." These wonderful drawings, paired with lyrical text, offer a fresh encounter with one of our most evocative illustrators.

A poem and portraits of children illustrate the shared beauty and heritage of people of African descent living throughout the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Designed to convey the beauty and shared heritage of people of African descent all over the world, this handsome picture book was inspired by the sketches of artist Feelings (Jambo Means Hello), who died in 2003. The finely crafted, remarkable pen-and-ink and charcoal illustrations, like drawings from an artist's portfolio, parade across the pages in shades of blue, brown or black. Printed on beige and blue backgrounds with occasional sketches of buildings and landscapes, the illustrations tie the underlying abstract idea to particular people and places. The book's beautiful, at times haunting faces serve as a fitting homage to Feelings, and the design of the book makes for a graceful presentation. However, without the introduction about the game that poet Dawes's mother played ("When she meets people of West African descent, she tries to place them in a West African ethnic group") the narrative may confuse young readers: "I saw your face in Benin/ And in Ghana near Takoradi./ Then there on the plains of Bahia/ Your gentle eyes said hi." Eventually, Dawes's attempt to tell "the story of Africa and her diaspora" boils down to a listing of places, which may escape youngsters but which older readers can appreciate as a poetry of its own ("Mombasa, Kinshasa, Timbuktu/ Havana, Savannah, Port-au-Prince"). In the uplifting conclusion, the narrator says, "we have traveled far/ And survived the journeys well." The elegant gallery of portraits encourages close examination of the human face, and readers of all ages will likely marvel at the images in these pages. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-Dawes begins this book with an introduction that is well worth reading in its entirety. One day, he explains, Feelings handed him a folder filled with faces of young people he had sketched over the course of his career, while living in several different parts of the world. Dawes states that what he saw was "the story of Africa and her diaspora." This poem, written in response to those drawings, is a moving tribute to Feelings's creativity and artistry. The verses take readers on a global journey through young black faces seen in Africa, North and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The final lines of the poem read, "I see your face look back at me/Full of ancient stories and dreams/That tell me we have traveled far/And survived the journeys well." The next two pages feature a map of the continents and places mentioned in the book. The simple eloquence of the poem is well matched to the beauty, grace, and dignity inherent on each of the faces. In the afterword, "In Memory of Tom Feelings," Jerry Pinkney poses the following questions: "How is it that art created with such expressively nuanced line, paintings on board and ever so fragile tissue paper, could hold so much power? Or that black-and-white drawings, and paintings, could seem so rich in color?" This is a unique purchase with wide appeal.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803718944
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 11.68 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Feelings was a groundbreaking influence for many, both artistically and politically, as noted by Jerry Pinkney in his afterword. He was the first African American to win a Caldecott Honor, and he received his third Coretta Scott King Award for The Middle Passage.

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