My Man Blue: Poems

My Man Blue: Poems

by Nikki Grimes, Jerome Lagarrigue
     
 
Blue lost one boy to the streets and is determined that this time will be different. And Damon knows that even though he's the "man of the house," there's room for a friend like Blue in his life. At the end of the day, Damon has someone standing steadfast in his corner. Someone true . . . like Blue. Nikki Grimes's moving poems and Jerome Lagarrigue's bold paintings

Overview

Blue lost one boy to the streets and is determined that this time will be different. And Damon knows that even though he's the "man of the house," there's room for a friend like Blue in his life. At the end of the day, Damon has someone standing steadfast in his corner. Someone true . . . like Blue. Nikki Grimes's moving poems and Jerome Lagarrigue's bold paintings create an emotional and realistic bond of friendship between a man and a boy in a rough world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 14 knowing, heartfelt poems, Grimes (Come Sunday) invites readers to witness the friendship that blossoms between Damon, an African-American boy without a father, and Blue, a tough-looking man who has lost his son to the streets. At first Damon isn't sure what to make of "This rugged dude/ Who some folk think/ Looks fierce in clothes/ of midnight black." But the boy quickly discovers Blue's "harmless, gentle-giant side." In between shooting hoops and outings to the park, Blue fortifies Damon's values and self-confidence--the very things that prevent Damon from resorting to the violence and antisocial behavior prevalent in his urban world. Though each of these accomplished poems could easily stand alone, together they form an enticing story arc. In his picture book debut, Lagarrigue doesn't interpret Grimes's words literally--his Blue looks approachable. Readers never see, for example, the teeth that startle the boy ("one gold, three cracked"), and Blue's getup doesn't match the text's description of perpetual shades and black leather. The deep-hued acrylic paintings have a rough, slightly smudgy texture, and they demonstrate a remarkable color sense. Unexpected fields of sharp blues and greens blend into the gritty cityscapes, and blocks of text are set against canvases thinly brushed with paint in palettes that complement the facing illustration. The art creates an ideal setting for the text: the look is inescapably urban but also subtly lyrical. Ages 6-up. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Laura Hummel
Blue, with his gold tooth, giant frame and black clothing, would be an unlikely hero for a young fatherless boy, but he is there when it counts. Set in Harlem, Grimes has used poetic form to provide a realistic and emotional account of a friendship which Blue pursues. His goal is to make up for the hole left by the loss of his own son and to keep his young friend from being swallowed up by the streets. He teaches Damon to climb by having him "loop... fear around a branch and use the rope to climb." Blue wisely guides Damon to accept illness, overlook teasing from peers, and to help his working mother. Someday, Damon vows, he will be caring and able to show it just like Blue. It will be easy for a young reader to relate to this first person account. As a read aloud, the richness of the poetic story lends itself to discussion and the expressive paintings truly enhance the mood.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-A child's suspicion of the new man in his mother's life grows into admiration and love in this set of linked poems. "When We First Met," young Damon recalls, "I circle, look him up and down and let/Him know his grin's not winning points with me," but all resistance melts in the face of Blue's respect, his quiet strength, his willingness to teach and to listen, and to look out for Damon's safety. By the end, Damon is hoping, one day, to be "Like Blue"; "Not fierce/In black leather/Or built like/A heavyweight/Boxing machine/But like that/Other Blue I've seen/The one who/Says he cares/And shows it." Lagarrigue debuts with a set of twilit, impressionistic, sparsely populated street scenes in which Blue, with his shaven head and heavy frame, leans hugely but attentively toward his diminutive companion. Damon mentions his mother several times, but because she appears in the illustrations only once, she remains a background presence as man and boy bond.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kim Hubbard
Athoughtful young African-American boy finds the strong-but-sensitive father he deserves. Lyrical, inspiring, and beautifully illustrated.

People

Kirkus Reviews
This against-the-odds book from Grimes (Jazmin's Notebook, 1998, etc.) tells of an African-American boy living in a neighborhood that cuts him no slack, and the man who helps keep his feet grounded and his self-esteem steady against the occasional buffeting of his peers. Damon and his mother have just moved to a new apartment when an old friend of the mother's introduces himself: Blue, a rather steely character wrapped in shades and enigma. Damon (who has just lost his father) is wary of Blue; he gives the man a chance only when it becomes evident that Blue is not about to move in on Damon's home turf. Blue (who "had" a son, now lost to the streets or worse) offers advice of haiku-like simplicity, teaching Damon to be his own man: anger is a dangerous waste, fear useless unless subverted, men don't hit women. Grimes gets across more subtle life lessons as well in both rhymed and unrhymed verse, on the dignity of work, and the sheer physical pleasure of sport when competition isn't the sole motivating factor. It is a story of a boy who is old for his age, but not callous—and perhaps saved from callousness by Blue. Lagarrigue's illustrations are brooding gardens of color that hold the forces of disorder and menace at bay, while Damon's cool earnestness—as well as his courage and independence—brighten each page. (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803723283
Publisher:
Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
05/01/1999

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