Heart and Soul : The Story of America and African Americans
by Nelson, Kadir






Discusses the history of African Americans, from colonial days through the civil rights movement.





"*Starred Review* Nelson, the creator of We Are the Ship (2008), recipient of both a Coretta Scott King Author Award and a Robert F. Siebert Medal, adds to his notable titles with this powerful view of African American history. Illustrated with 44 full-page paintings, including both portraits and panoramic spreads, this handsome volume is told in the fictionalized, informal voice of an African American senior looking back on her life and remembering what her elders told her. The tone is intimate, even cozy, as the speaker addresses a contemporary "honey chile" and shares historical accounts that sometimes take a wry view of inequality: about a journey north, for example, she observes that "Jim Crow has made the trip right along with us." Grim struggle is always present in her telling, though, and the passages include the horror of race riots, illustrated with a terrifying painting of a burning cross. With such a broad time frame, there is a lot to fit into a100 or so pages, but Nelson effectively captures the roles of ordinary people in landmark events ("We called ourselves the Freedom Riders") while presenting famous leaders who changed the world, from Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks to Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and, finally, President Barack Obama. A detailed time line and a bibliography of books and DVDs closes this powerful, accessible history which will find wide circulation in both schools and public libraries." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.





In an undertaking even more ambitious than the multiple-award-winning We Are the Ship (2008), Nelson tells the story of African-Americans and their often central place in American history.

Directly after the prologue, the narrative begins with the U.S. Capitol, built by slaves and freeman before Nelson steps back and shows the intricate ways American and African-American history were intertwined from the earliest days of the country's founding. Using an unnamed female narrator, Nelson fashions a unique mode of storytelling that is both historical and personal. The narrator guides readers through major events in American history through the perspective of, first, enslaved people, then those legally free but hindered by discrimination and, finally, citizens able to fully participate in American life following the Civil Rights Movement. As with any work by this talented artist, the accompanying illustrations are bold and arresting. The dramatic oil paintings heighten the dignity of this story, whether they are of well-known historical figures, common folk or landscape. With such a long time period to cover, the careful choices Nelson makes of which stories to tell make this a successful effort. While there is little room for historical nuance, Nelson does include the way events such as World War I and the fight for woman suffrage affected the Black community. 

This intimate narrative makes the stories accessible to young readers and powerfully conveys how personal this history feels for many African-Americans. (Nonfiction. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.






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