BN.com Gift Guide

Lullaby (For a Black Mother)

Overview

“My little dark baby, / My little earth-thing, / My little love-one, / What shall I sing / For your lullaby?" With a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between an African American mother and her baby. The award-winning illustrator Sean Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork captures universally powerful maternal moments with tenderness and whimsy. In the end, readers will find a rare photo of baby Hughes and his mother, a biographical note, further reading, and the complete lullaby. Like little

... See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $3.97   
  • New (9) from $8.19   
  • Used (4) from $3.97   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...

Overview

“My little dark baby, / My little earth-thing, / My little love-one, / What shall I sing / For your lullaby?" With a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between an African American mother and her baby. The award-winning illustrator Sean Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork captures universally powerful maternal moments with tenderness and whimsy. In the end, readers will find a rare photo of baby Hughes and his mother, a biographical note, further reading, and the complete lullaby. Like little love-ones, this beautiful book is a treasure.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“My little dark baby,/ My little earth-thing,/ My little love-one,/ What shall I sing/ For your lullaby?” Hughes wrote this poem more than 80 years ago, but its playful language and informal lines sound startlingly fresh and modern. The poem’s images of night and innocence are well suited for a picture book, too. Qualls (Freedom Song) keeps his artwork simple, painting a series of spreads that hew closely to the words. He renders “A necklace of stars” with a bird flying around mother and child, leaving a trail of stars around the woman’s neck. “Moon,/ Moon,/ Great diamond moon” shows the white-gowned, long-haired mother floating among the clouds, holding her son up so he can see the shining disk in a dark, gray-blue sky. Swirls of grass and celestial orbs embellish daytime scenes, while the lights of tall buildings join with the stars above to form a backdrop for several nocturnal spreads. An afterword describes Hughes’s career. A quiet but welcome introduction to the writer’s work for the very young. Ages 3–8. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers. House. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"Hughes' classic lullaby gets a loving lift with Quall's graceful artwork."
Booklist

"A wonderful celebration of both love and poetry."
School Library Journal

"A quiet but welcome introduction to the writer's work for the very young."
Publishers Weekly

"Share with little ones needing a gentle lullaby."
Kirkus

"Not all poems make for great picture book texts, but this one has just the right cadence and all the right line breaks for smooth page turns, especially when accompanied by Qualls's superb art showing the deep bond between a mother and her baby at bedtime."
Horn Book

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
There are picture books, and then there is readable art. This rendition of an exquisitely spare poem, originally published in Hughes' The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, falls into the category of art. The poem is classically beautiful and describes a dark, night sky ablaze with the moon and stars, a gift from a mother to her African American child. Illustrator Sean Qualls has done a perfect job of wrapping his illustration around the poem and incorporating the music of the words into every picture; for example, the round-faced baby rides a musical staff through the night sky while there is a "necklace of stars" wrap around the mother's neck. The illustrations combine drawings with collage. Mother's night dress seems to be made of a scrap of real lace, while newspaper print shows through in other pictures throughout the book. Mother and child fly through the sky together, visiting the moon and stars in dusky-colored clouds of lavender and blue. The mother and child are, of course, African American since the poet references a "dark baby, night black baby" and the title is written "For a Black Mother," but I cannot imagine that this wouldn't be a wonderful bedtime story for children of every race. It is the soothing sound of the words and the lyrical cadence of the poem that will lull a child—any child—into dreamland. Backmatter includes a short biography of the poet, highlighting the limited but loving time Hughes spent with his own mother. Collections of Hughes' other poetry are suggested for further reading. This book is highly recommended for purchase. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
PreS—Presented for the first time as a full-length picture book, Hughes's lyrical poem comes to life through Qualls's lush collage-style illustration. The poem, originally part of The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (Knopf, 1932), celebrates the love between a mother and her child and the quiet rituals of putting a baby to bed. The art, in muted tones of purple and blue, provides a dreamlike backdrop to the touching words. At the end of the book, the lullaby is printed on one page so that readers can see it in its original format, thereby changing the reading experience slightly. A "Note About the Poet" gives context for the poem and a brief insight into Hughes's life and inspirations (including a discussion of how this particular poem might have been born of loneliness, thereby giving it a more melancholy and poignant subtext). A wonderful celebration of both love and poetry.—Rita Meade, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
An urban setting with a calming palette complements the soothing, loving tone of Hughes' poem celebrating an African-American mother and her baby. The rhythmic language slowly unfolds with only a line or two per spread. Qualls' illustrations in acrylic, pencil and collage extend the rich imagery of the text with fantastical qualities that young ones can appreciate. "A necklace of stars" shows mother swinging her baby through a sparkling, celestial, deep purple sky softened with rounded clouds in blues, pinks and grays. The white "[g]reat diamond moon" leads to the next spread, in which mama and child, in a close-up silhouette, "[kiss] the night" amid a burst of stars and with a wavy line of musical notes. This "sleep-song lullaby" is ephemeral, as any sweet song is, but the just-the-right-length note at the end satisfyingly delivers biographical information about the famous poet, while a photo of Hughes as a baby with his mother and the poem's full text provide further context. This appealing, quiet offering would serve as an appropriate introduction to poetry for new readers since the font is big and much of the vocabulary repeats. Share with little ones needing a gentle lullaby. (note, further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 2-6)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547362656
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/19/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 815,149
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Langston Hughes penned many well-known poems, such as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "I, Too, Sing America," and "The Dream Keeper." A renowned contributor to New York City's Harlem Renaissance, he died in 1967.


Sean Qualls received a Coretta Scott King Honor award for his illustrations in Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, and has published many other acclaimed books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his family. Visit his website at www.seanqualls.com.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)