Life Doesn't Frighten Me

( 5 )

Overview

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Maya Angelou's brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves.

Angelou's strong words are matched by the ...

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Overview

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Maya Angelou's brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves.

Angelou's strong words are matched by the daring vision of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose childlike style reveals the powerful emotions and fanciful imaginings of childhood. Together, Angelou's words and Basquiat's paintings create a place where every child, indeed every person, may experience his or her own fearlessness.

In this brilliant introduction to poetry and contemporary art, brief biographies of Angelou and Basquiat accompany the text and artwork, focusing on the strengths they took from their lives and brought to their work. A selected bibliography of Angelou's books and a selected museum listing of Basquiat's works open the door to further inspiration through the fine arts.

Presents Maya Angelou's poem illustrated by paintings and drawings of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Features biographies of both the author and artist.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Boyers, a TV producer and art collector, deserves a standing ovation for her performance in pairing Angelou's poem with abstract paintings by the late Basquiat. ``Dragons breathing flame / On my counterpane / That doesn't frighten me at all. / I go boo / Make them shoo / I make fun / Way they run / I won't cry / So they fly''--had it been teamed with representational or whimsical illustrations, the verse might well have lost its dignity; instead, the proximity of Basquiat's edgy, streetwise pictures adds even greater power and authenticity to Angelou's refrain, ``Life doesn't frighten me at all.'' Conversely, the affirming quality of the poem mediates Basquiat's disquieting urban images. Basquiat's first works were drawn onto the walls of Manhattan buildings, and the frenzied, sometimes angry compositions here have the rawness of graffiti. The reproductions invite close scrutiny, implicitly teaching the viewer a way of approaching contemporary art and reinforcing the tough beauty of the poem. Ages 4-up. Sept.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A unique book that combines the words of a renowned African-American poet laureate and the primitive, modern paintings of a young Haitian-American artist. With lines of verse that shout exuberantly from each page, a young voice rails against any and all things that mean to do her harm. Whether they are ``Shadows on the wall/ Noises down the hall'' or even ``Mean old Mother Goose/Lions on the loose''-to one and all she responds- ``they don't frighten me at all.'' In the middle, the pace and intensity quicken as ``I go boo/Make them shoo/I make fun/Way they run.'' Despite the scary things around her, the poet's determined courage remains. The art provides a jolting counterpoint to the optimistic words, reflecting a dark, intense vision. Violent splashes of color bleed and drip one into another, and white letters are scratched into black backgrounds. Stark figures with grotesque features face off against one another. Symbols such as arrows, birds, crowns, and letters emphasize the artist's anger and sense of irony. The choice of the paintings, taken as they were from an extant body of work, give levels of meanings to a poem already strong with images of its own. A powerful exploration of emotion and its expression through the careful blend of words and art.-Jane Marino, White Plains Public Library, NY
Hazel Rochman
Both a handsome art book and a rhythmic read-aloud, this is great for sharing with audiences of many ages. Angelou's direct, lovely poem is the text of a dramatic large-size picture book with paintings in glowing color by young New York City artist Basquiat. Words and pictures work together because the editor has made no attempt to match literal images. Both poet and artist confront our archetypal fears, out there and in our nightmares ("Panthers in the park / Strangers in the dark / No, they don't frighten me at all"). Fear is answered with dancing energy and daring imagination and laughter ("Mean old Mother Goose / Lions on the loose / They don't frighten me at all"). Basquiat's work has the directness of street art, with a bold combination of magic realism and abstract geometric shapes--sometimes Picasso, sometimes African mask, sometimes child's scribble. Also included are long, excellent biographical sketches of Angelou and Basquiat. "Life Doesn't Frighten Me at All" was the title poem for a popular YA anthology edited by John Agard (1990).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556702884
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 99,745
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.75 (w) x 11.87 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
An author whose series of autobiographies is as admired for its lyricism as its politics, Maya Angelou is a writer who’s done it all. Angelou's poetry and prose -- and her refusal to shy away from writing about the difficult times in her past -- have made her an inspiration to her readers.

Biography

As a chronicler of her own story and the larger civil rights movement in which she took part, Maya Angelou is remarkable in equal measure for her lyrical gifts as well as her distinct sense of justice, both politically and personally.

Angelou was among the first, if not the first, to create a literary franchise based on autobiographical writings. In the series' six titles -- beginning with the classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and followed by Gather Together in My Name, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Heart of a Woman, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, and 2002's A Song Flung Up to Heaven -- Angelou tells her story in language both no-nonsense and intensely spiritual.

Angelou's facility with language, both on paper and as a suede-voiced speaker, have made her a populist poet. Her 1995 poem "Phenomenal Woman" is still passed along the Web among women as inspiration ("It's in the reach of my arms/The span of my hips/The stride of my steps/The curl of my lips./I'm a woman/Phenomenally/Phenomenal woman/That's me"), and her 1993 poem "On the Pulse of the Morning," written for Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration, was later released as a Grammy-winning album.

Angelou often cites other writers (from Kenzaburo Oe to James Baldwin) both in text and name. But as often as not, her major mentors were not writers – she had been set to work with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. before each was assassinated, stories she recounts in A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

Given her rollercoaster existence -- from poverty in Arkansas to journalism in Egypt and Ghana and ultimately, to her destiny as a successful writer and professor in the States – it's no surprise that Angelou hasn't limited herself to one or two genres. Angelou has also written for stage and screen, acted, and directed. She is the rare author from whom inspiration can be derived both from her approach to life as from her talent in writing about it. Reading her books is like taking counsel from your wisest, favorite aunt.

Good To Know

Angelou was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Nyo Boto in the 1977 miniseries Roots. She has also appeared in films such as How to Make an American Quilt and Poetic Justice, and she directed 1998's Down in the Delta.

Angelou speaks six languages, including West African Fanti.

She taught modern dance at the Rome Opera House and the Hambina Theatre in Tel Aviv.

Before she became famous as a writer, Maya Angelou was a singer. Miss Calypso is a CD of her singing calypso songs.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Margeurite Johnson
      Maya Angelou
    2. Hometown:
      Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 4, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Education:
      High school in Atlanta and San Francisco

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 7, 2014

    Great poem, weird book

    I wish I didn't have to write this review, but I feel I should so other parents don't make the same mistake. This book is just weird. The poem is perfect for kids! Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors, and I was so excited to get this and introduce my children to her, but sadly, this is not the book to do it. The picture on the cover is the least frightening, and it just gets worse inside. The illustrations are all abstract and disturbing. I don't mind children's books that aren't "pretty", but even I was unsettled by some of the images, and my 7-yr-old wondered why they had to make the book so scary? I'm sorry, but I just wouldn't recommend this at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted August 26, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2008

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