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by Bryan Collier

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Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier discovers the vibrant world of Harlem, New York, as seen through the eyes of a little boy

"Uptown . . .
Harlem, New York.
Chicken and waffles.

Uptown is a rich mix of flavors, colors, sounds, and cultures that come together

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Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier discovers the vibrant world of Harlem, New York, as seen through the eyes of a little boy

"Uptown . . .
Harlem, New York.
Chicken and waffles.

Uptown is a rich mix of flavors, colors, sounds, and cultures that come together to create a vibrant community like no other in the world. Seen through the eyes of one little boy who lives there, the details of life in Harlem are as joyous as a game of basketball on a summer's afternoon and as personal as a trip to the barbershop where old-timers reminisce.

Bryan Collier's spare, poetic text and beautiful, intricate illustrations evoke every aspect of Harlem, from the legendary Apollo Theater to chocolate-colored brownstones, weekend shopping on 125th Street, and the music of Duke Ellington.

Uptown is the winner of the 2001 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Collier's evocative watercolor-and-collage illustrations create a unique sense of mood and place. Bold color choices for text as well as background pages complement engagingly detailed pictures of city life.” —School Library Journal

“...both text and art capture a child's sense of perspective and imagination.” —Publishers Weekly

The Barnes & Noble Review
Culture, community, and elegant brownstones are just a few of the things featured in Bryan Collier's Uptown. This imaginative book gives readers a very personal tour of Harlem through the eyes of a young boy who lives in the diverse neighborhood.

Travel uptown on the Metro-North train and have a bite to eat -- how about chicken and waffles? The young narrator admits that "it seems like a weird combination, but it works." Strolling on 125th Street results in a cornucopia of shoppers with a vibrant blend of personalities. History also plays a strong part in the fabric of Harlem -- from the roots of jazz to gossip at the barbershop.

The collage illustrations featured in the book are a perfect match for the spare text. Bold colors and watercolor pictures wonderfully illustrate the diverse and wondrous culture in this amazing community. Kids who have heard of Harlem but aren't able to make the visit will find this book particularly enlightening as an ideal introduction and a wonderful journey. Those of us who know of Harlem's wonder will smile contently at Uptown's spectacular vision and praise the heartfelt work of Collier.

--Amy Barkat

Publishers Weekly
"Collier's watercolor and collage artwork effectively blends a boy's idealism with the telling details of the city streets in this picture-book tour of Harlem," said PW. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Harlem is only a name to most American youngsters, but Collier makes it a real place as he describes what to see and hear, smell, taste and feel, in a tour around the town. The words are sparse but poetic, evocative of the many aspects of the area that a young boy experiences, but the pages are crowded with images, mostly assembled collages, with some paintings of people. The scenes are intricately conceived: rows of brownstone houses like chocolate bars, weekend shopping as a jumble of cars, people, fabric shapes, the Apollo Theater, a basketball game, little sisters walking to church. The brief text becomes part of the overall page design, often set in color with meandering lines. In a sense, the reader is given pieces of a puzzle to assemble in the imagination for a picture of what the boy calls home. 2000, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 6 to 9, $15.95. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3 -A young boy takes youngsters on a tour of his beloved uptown neighborhood in New York Citya€™s Harlem in this visual and aural treat (Holt, 2000) written and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Bold watercolor and collage artwork beautifully captures the tempo and atmosphere of this childa€™s world. From the brownstones that look like chocolate to the Harlem Boya€™s Choir to basketball games to shopping on 125th Street, it is obvious that this boy has a strong sense of place and community and a love of home. The brief text is just right for young readers and listeners. Narrator Ricky Smith does a commendable job of capturing the tone of the book. Subtle sound effects such as an occasional car honking and the Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem singing enhance the telling. A stunning and affectionate celebration of Harlem.-Deanna Romriell, Salt Lake City Public Library, UT

Esmé Raji Codell
…the author leads the reader on a collage and cut-paper tour that captures and celebrates the rhythm of the city.
Bookbag Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Collier debuts with a set of dazzling paint-and-photo collages paired to a child's tribute to his Harlem neighborhood. From his window the young narrator sees "Uptown" in the Metro North commuter train crawling caterpillar-like over the river; sisters in matching dresses parading to church; weekend shoppers on 125th Street; jazz; Van Der Zee photographs; playground basketball; chicken and waffles served any time of day. ("At first it seems like a weird combination, but it works.") This complex, many-layered vibe is made almost tangible by the kaleidoscopic illustrations. For instance, the row of brownstones "…when you look at them down the block. They look like they're made of chocolate." Indeed, their bricks are photos of chocolate bars. Walter Dean Myers's poem Harlem (1997), illustrated in similar style by Christopher Myers, conveys a deeper sense of the African American community's history, but this makes an engagingly energetic once-over. (Picture book. 7-9)

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Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
7.95(w) x 9.97(h) x 0.15(d)
AD420L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Bryan Collier won the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration and the Ezra Jack Keats Award for new talent for Uptown, the first picture book he both wrote and illustrated. He also won a Coretta Scott King Best Illustrator Honor for Visiting Langston, written by Willie Perdomo.

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BM25 More than 1 year ago
The book Uptown by Bryan Collier is great picture book for younger kids. It is very colorful and inviting, the narrator shows the way around Harlem and describes the buildings and the city the way he sees it. This book has received the Coretta Scott King Award and is considered contemporary realistic fiction. The narrator a young kid invites the reader through a journey in the streets of Harlem. The kid describes his streets exactly the way he sees them with his full blown imagination. The journey is far and interesting along the way the reader experiences the different artwork and pictures through out the book. I can see this book would be very interesting for kids who travel or who have been to New York.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I originally bought a hardcover copy of this book from the writer/illustrator himself, 'Mr.Brian Collier' at the Harlem Book Fair years ago as a gift for my nephew. Years after sending this book to its destination, as an adult I never forgot the vivid pictures and imagery that has stayed with me, I had to buy a copy of my own. Thanks to this wonderful book I am now a collector of exquisite children's books. My nephew (who's in the 3rd grade) to this day still takes the book to school with him to show his friends. Thank you Mr.Collier for helping us to see buildings in imaginative ways. We see art through your eyes.