Nathaniel Talking

by Eloise Greenfield and Jan Spivey Gilchrist

The 18 first-person poems in this handsome 18 ¼"... read more

The 18 first-person poems in this handsome 18 ¼" square book characterize lively contemporary nine-year-old Nathaniel's strong moods and experiences. They reveal this African-American boy's spoken ideas about himself and his thoughts about his family. Gilchrist's black-and-white illustrations fill the pages with images sometimes bouyant and sometimes poignant but always, like Nathaniel, in a male idiom. Linking several generations with the rhythms unique to each, Greenfield offers homage to the instrument called "bones" played by Nathaniel's grandma and by elders in Africa as well as in the U.S.A. in the early to mid-20th century. Nathaniel's daddy plays the twelve-bar blues on his guitar; listeners and readers are invited to use Greenfield's suggestions for creating their own poem in this rhythm and style. Nathaniel's generation expresses itself through rap music. In a more reflective poem Nathaniel pictures himself "moving through the world / doing good and unusual / things." These pride-filled pages create hope by looking directly through a child's eyes at his past, present and future. Winner, 1989 CCBC Coretta Scott King Discussion of Writing. (Ages 5-11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1989

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