Review of My People, by Langston Hughes, photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr.

My People

by Langston Hughes
Photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr.

Ginee Seo Books (Atheneum Books for Young Readers), New York, 2009. 36 pages.
2010 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Starred Review

My People is a beautiful, glorious, gorgeous book. I can’t adequately speak in its praise. It’s also, I believe, the first time a photographer has won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award — but the award is completely deserved, as the images used are stunning and so wonderfully accompany the poem.

The text is the Langston Hughes poem, “My People,” which talks about how beautiful his people are. “The night is beautiful, so the faces of my people…”

Charles R. Smith Jr. uses incredible close-up pictures of African-Americans to illustrate each phrase. The faces are truly beautiful, radiant and glowing. I think my favorite pictures are the ones that illustrate the phrase “are the souls,” with children dancing, completely unself-conscious. But all the people featured — elders, adults, children and babies — are photographed in a way that makes us see the wonder of their joy and humanity. Truly beautiful.

You simply have to see this book to understand how wonderful it is.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

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