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Schomburg : the man who built a library
2017
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Author Notes
Carole Boston Weatherford is a New York Times best-selling author and poet. Her numerous books for children include the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book Becoming Billie Holiday, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, and the Caldecott Honor Books Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. Carole Boston Weatherford lives in Highpoint, North Carolina.<br> <br> Eric Velasquez is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including several previous collaborations with Carole Boston Weatherford. He won the John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award for his illustrations of The Piano Man, written by Debbi Chocolate. Eric Velasquez is also the author-illustrator of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award-winning Grandma's Gift. Born in Harlem, he lives and works in Hartsdale, New York.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Juvenile
Topics
Respect
Multiculturalism
Books
African Americans
Cultures
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

The great children's author Virginia Lee Burton was "quite magical," writes Rinker ("Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site"). An accomplished dancer, artist and textile designer, Burton was also an attentive mother who realized the role "big trucks" played in her two sons' imaginations. Magical, indeed: We watch her nimble pencil drawings grow, with the boys' help, into classics like "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." The polished art by Rocco ("Blackout") has an infectious energy, nailing the mid-20th-century aesthetic. SONIA DELAUNAY A Life of Color. By Cara Manes. Illustrated by Fatinha Ramos. 40 pp. Museum of Modern Art. $19.95. (Picture book; ages 5 - 9) "Art is all around us, always," the early 20th-century artist Sonia Delaunay says to her son in this ingenious book, part biography, part lesson in color and design theory. Manes, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, has Delaunay, a pioneer of abstraction, take off in a colorful flying car to show her son the colors, patterns and textures that shape her work. Even sounds and feelings, she shows, can be incorporated into design. Ramos's lovely, playful art pulls off the tricky task of evoking Delaunay's while standing strongly on its own. RUTH BADER GINSBURG The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality. By Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Stacy Innerst. 40 pp. Abrams. $18.95. (Picture book; ages 6 -10) Structured like a legal argument to prove the injustices Ginsburg faced, this beautifully illustrated biography of the Supreme Court justice starts with her birth at a time when Jews faced "violence and vandalism" and daughters were "discouraged from going to college." You can almost hear the chorus of "That's not fair!" as Winter ("Lillian's Right to Vote") documents each fresh outrage Ginsburg stared down. "This happened right here in America," he reminds us. Innerst makes the pages look gently monumental, like R.B.G. herself. SERGEANT RECKLESS The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. By Patricia McCormick. Illustrated by lacopo Bruno. 40 pp. Balzer and Bray. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 6 -10) Once there was a brave little sorrel mare who lived m a war zone, and some resourceful Marines trained her to carry heavy ammunition under fire. McCormick ("Never Fall Down") excels at bringing thrilling nonfiction stories to young readers, and this picture book about the horse awarded two Purple Hearts enthralls. With cinematic art by Bruno ("Mesmerized") bringing the big cast to life, it's an approachable introduction to the Korean War and a heartwarming example of "the mysterious bond between humans and animals." SCHOMBURG The Man Who Built a Library. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Eric Velasquez. 48 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 9 - 12) The remarkable life and achievements of the Afro-Puerto Rican scholar, collector and curator Arturo Schomburg have ideal chroniclers in Weatherford ( "Freedom in Congo Square") and Velasquez ("Grandma's Gift"). Arturo's lifelong passion for collecting books, they show, was about "correcting history for generations to come" to include the contributions of people of African descent. In Velasquez's proud, realistic art, Schomburg and the greats he championed - overlooked inventors, artists and revolutionaries - tower. ONLINE An expanded visual presentation of this week's column is at nytimes.com/books.

  Publishers Weekly Review

In graceful free verse, Weatherford delivers a remarkable tribute to Arturo Schomburg, the Afro-Puerto Rican historian, collector, and activist who unearthed the hidden history and achievements of "Africa's sons and daughters." In addition to charting the path Schomburg's life took after emigrating to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, she gives ample attention to the knowledge he uncovered as he amassed books: "Schomburg chased the truth and turned up icons/ whose African heritage had been whitewashed," among them John James Audubon, Alexandre Dumas, and Alexander Pushkin, all of whom are captured with vibrancy and life in Velasquez's oil portraits. Schomburg's ambitions, scholarship, and accomplishments were tremendous-"There was no field of human endeavor/ that he did not till with his determined hand"-and Weatherford and Velasquez more than do justice to them. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-7-Arturo Schomburg grew up loving books, and his thirst for knowledge led him to find out all he could about people of African heritage. He began searching for and acquiring books by black authors from a young age. Later he also collected art, letters, and music. Eventually his collection was purchased by the Carnegie Corporation and then donated to the New York Public Library, where it currently resides in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Narrator Ron Butler has a nice inflection and energy as he reads the free verse poems, and period music plays throughout. A second disc includes page-turn signals, and listeners will want to read along with the picture book to see the accompanying illustrations. -VERDICT An excellent look at pieces of African American history.-Elizabeth Elsbree, Krug -Elementary School, Aurora, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Lifelong bibliophile Arturo Schomburg would be pleased by Weatherford's prose-poem biography, which praises his passion for researching and collecting books, manuscripts, and other written materials relating to black heritage and history. A Puerto Rico-born New Yorker, Schomburg's quest began when he was a student. Meticulous, he continued his avocation while working as a law clerk in New York City. The centerpiece of the book is a poem called Whitewash, in which Schomburg reflects on a number of famous people with historically unacknowledged African roots: John James Audubon, Alexandre Dumas, Alexander Pushkin, and even Ludwig van Beethoven, whose mother was thought to be a Moor from North Africa (So when genius was black, skin color was left out). Velasquez's portraits of these talents are consistently heroic, while pictures of Schomburg himself, a man of positive stature and bearing, are warm and full of pride. His personal story (three marriages, time at Fisk University, and a place in the Harlem Renaissance) is woven seamlessly with info about those men and women he researched. A time line, source notes, and a bibliography are included, useful for those, like Schomburg himself, who like to seek out more material. As with her previous book Voice of Freedom (2015), Weatherford illuminates a person well worth knowing. A rich book to add to all collections.--Cruze, Karen Copyright 2017 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

An eccentric, smart, and quirky bibliophile, Arturo Schomburg fueled his life with books. This picture book of free verse poems, lavishly illustrated in oils, opens with stories from Schomburg's childhood in Puerto Rico, where he constantly asked why the history of black people had been left out of all the history books. Answering him, framed, date-stamped panels, appearing primarily on the right sides of the double-page spreads throughout, capture the stories of important historical black figures such as Philip Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, and Paul Cuffee. The poem "Whitewash" will surprise some readers; Schomburg objected to the common practice of omitting from biographies the African heritage of prominent individuals such as naturalist and ornithologist John James Audubon, French writer Alexandre Dumas, Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, and German composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Alongside these, Schomburg's personal and professional life unfolds in unframed images. Schomburg worked as a mail clerk with Banker's Trust; his book collecting and library building resulted from his life's passion, not his vocation. All of the book's details paint Schomburg as an admirable, flawed, likable, passionate man whose lasting legacy, Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, opens its doors to all who would learn more about the people its founder knew had been left out of the written record. A must-read for a deeper understanding of a well-connected genius who enriched the cultural road map for African-Americans and books about them. (Picture book/biography/poetry. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children's literature's top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg's quest to correct history. <br> <br> Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked.<br> <br> Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro-Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk's life's passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg's collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.
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