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Friday, November 4, 2011

Kadir Nelson

Heart and Soul: the story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson is awe-inspiring.  I'm not sure if I have the words to describe this amazing work of art.  I'm adding it to my picture book blog because the pictures are the most beautiful oil paintings.  It's told from a point of view of a great-great-grandmother's voice, but written by Kadir.  I'm going to use a term that I hope others will understand, it's 'beautifully horrible', and what I mean is that the painting is a masterful work of art, but it depicts a part of history that is detestable.  The first picture that struck me emotionally was the full two page spread of the slave ship, pgs. 16 &17.  And the one that probably cut me to the core was just a few pages away.  Page 20 is a beautiful tree, it just happens to be the whipping tree.  It's affected me so much that I think I'll have have to paint it in my watercolors.  This phenomenal book must win awards this year.  There is no doubt in my mind, it's just a matter of which ones.
Another reason this book strikes me so closely is that almost all the history in this book was left out of my school textbooks.  That is a crime that should not have been committed.  But even now people don't face facts about what is really going on.  So since they couldn't put all the history in our books they put what they wanted.  But now I am free to find what I missed. Most of it is ugly, but then in a book like Heart and Soul, you have the bad and the beautiful, we need to pay attention to both.
I would use this with any age.  It's one of those books that you can paraphrase the info and show the paintings, or get a class started on it and let them take over.

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