Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea

by Joyce Carol Thomas and Floyd Cooper

African-American experience is depicted in twelve original poems that exquisitely... read more

African-American experience is depicted in twelve original poems that exquisitely express feelings of pride, joy, love, wonder, sorrow and hope, and delicately extract and magnify moments imbedded in everyday life. "I spring up from mother earth / She clothed me in her own colors / I was nourished by father sun / He glazed the pottery of my skin..." begins the affirming opening poem, "Cherish Me." The simplest gestures take on the significance of ritual in "Mama" ("...She bows to the plant for permission / Prunes a small twig / Carries it like a healing flower / Over and over the rising road..."). "Family Tree" mourns losses of the past ("...This forest down by the blue-green water / That first spearated us / Mother from son / Father from daughter / Sister from sister... / I look across water / And cry for our trembling / Family tree"), while the title poem, speaking of the present, cautions, "There are those who / Have brewed a / Bitter potion for / Children kissed long by the sun." The final offering, "Becoming the Tea," assures that "...like the steeping brew / The longer I stand/ The stronger I stay." Floyd Cooper's intimate paintings warmly reflect and extend the theme of the text. Steeped in tones of brown, rust and gold, they are themselves a celebration of African-American life. Winner, 1993 CCBC Coretta Scott King Award Discussion: Illustration. (Ages 5-10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1993

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