Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina | SLJ Review

Gr 2-5 –Medina combines the tanka form with the illustrious talents of 13 artists to produce a resplendent collection of poetry dedicated to black and brown children.

redstarMEDINA, Tony. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy. illus. by various. 40p. Penny Candy Bks. Feb. 2018. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780998799940.

Gr 2-5 –Medina combines the tanka form with the illustrious talents of 13 artists to produce a resplendent collection of poetry dedicated to black and brown children. Drawing inspiration from the historically black neighborhood of Anacostia in Washington, DC, which is becoming more and more gentrified; Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”; and Raymond R. Patterson’s Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Black Man, Medina nimbly crafts a meditation on black boyhood that emphasizes beauty and intergenerational love among family and neighbors (“Mama’s little butterfly/Daddy’s dimple grin so wide.”). In addition to holding a mirror up to readers’ multitudinous selves, the poet also offers them flashes of Anacostia and their own neighborhoods—a chance to join in the making, remembering, and sharing of legacies. The artwork is just as dazzling, from Floyd Cooper’s snapshot of a family in motion to Tiffany McKnight’s electric patterns to Ekua Holmes’s signature collage. The volume concludes with more information about the poet, the illustrators, and the poems. VERDICT This shining title deserves a spot in all poetry collections.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2018 issue.

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