In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage

Overview

As a young girl in Florida in the 1890s, Augusta enjoyed nothing more than playing with clay. She would sculpt it into little figures: cows, chickens, ducks. Augusta's mother didn’t mind but her father, a stern preacher, felt the girl was wasting time on idle nonsense. Augusta’s sculpting talent blossomed as she grew into a young woman. Eventually, she found herself at a crossroad. Augusta wanted to pursue a career as an artist, but to do so she would have to leave behind all she knew. With only her passion to ...

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Overview

As a young girl in Florida in the 1890s, Augusta enjoyed nothing more than playing with clay. She would sculpt it into little figures: cows, chickens, ducks. Augusta's mother didn’t mind but her father, a stern preacher, felt the girl was wasting time on idle nonsense. Augusta’s sculpting talent blossomed as she grew into a young woman. Eventually, she found herself at a crossroad. Augusta wanted to pursue a career as an artist, but to do so she would have to leave behind all she knew. With only her passion to guide her, Augusta headed to New York City to follow her dream wherever it might take her. Award-winning author Alan Schroeder deftly weaves together known historical details to create a compelling portrait of this unique Harlem Renaissance sculptor. Warm paintings capture both Augusta Savage’s struggles and resilience as she skillfully carved out her own special place in art history.

2009 Parents' Choice Recommended winner

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Sculptor Augusta Savage (1892—1962) is not so well known as she deserves to be. Born into a poor African-American family in Florida, Augusta loved to model animals in clay; her father, a stern preacher, did not approve. Encouraged by her mother and a prize at the county fair, Augusta traveled to New York to study sculpture. Not much is known of her life, but Schroeder and Bereal have imagined details to add to the meager facts available: Savage was accepted at Cooper Union's school of art, studied in Paris, and came back to Harlem to model busts of W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, a jaunty Harlem gamin, and her triumph, The Harp—a sixteen-foot work for the New York World's Fair. (Composed of singing children in graduated sizes, this sculpture finally brought her limited fame.) Savage opened a studio in Harlem where all were welcome, especially children, and became a mentor to artists like Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, though much of her own work has disappeared. Augusta's story is made vivid with imagined scenes dramatizing her early life up to her intense joy (accented by a sunrise-orange dress) at being accepted by Cooper Union. Bereal's evocative stylized paintings with their dense textures and glowing greens, blues, and browns, emphasize the strength and determination of this talented sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance in her struggles for recognition. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Schroeder has taken what is known about the Harlem Renaissance sculptor (1892–1962) and created a fictionalized account of her life from her childhood in Florida to her acceptance into a New York art school. By choosing to focus on Savage's early years, Schroeder presents a part of the sculptor's life that children will relate to. Savage endured harsh criticism from her father, but realized her dream of becoming an artist. An afterword contains much of what is known about her success in school, her major works, her role as an art instructor, and her retirement years. Bereal's full-page and spot illustrations glow with the sunset hue of the red clay Savage first discovered as a child. Two black-and-white images of her work are also included. This is a worthy effort that celebrates the determination of a young woman whose contributions should be remembered.—Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Schroeder, who has previously penned similar biographies of Harriet Tubman, Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong, turns here to the life of a Florida girl who loved to work in clay. A prominent sculptor who gained fame during the Harlem Renaissance, Savage fell into obscurity and little is known of her life. Her mother was supportive while her preacher father condemned her efforts. She made it to New York City, studied at Cooper Union and created works for the New York Public Library and the 1939 World's Fair while also directing the Harlem Community Art Center. Much of the actual accomplishments and troubles of her life are covered in the author's note. The text is a gentle recounting of her childhood and difficult road to New York, embellished with much unsourced dialogue. Still, this works as an introduction to another female African-American artist of note. The acrylic paintings from debut artist Bereal are warm and inviting. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600603327
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 8 years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)

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