Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy. Oct. 2019. 112p. bibliog. index. photos. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781534404908.
Gr 6 Up–Part memoir, part social history, part artist’s sketchbook, this title offers a rare insight into the treatment of black soldiers serving in World War II. Bryan, a renowned children’s book creator and Newbery Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner, offers an impressionistic work. After facing discrimination when he applied to college, Bryan earned a scholarship to Cooper Union in New York. Just when he thought he was on his way to achieving his dream of working as an artist, 19-year-old Bryan was drafted into the United States Army in 1943. Although he’d encountered prejudice before, Bryan was surprised by the level of segregation he experienced in the military. Black recruits were immediately separated from white ones; they were assigned dangerous “service” jobs and were not offered the same opportunities to advance. Bryan used art as a way to feed his spirit as he faced perilous assignments, including taking part in the D-Day invasion and sleeping in a foxhole on Omaha Beach for months. Unlike his 2009 autobiography, Words to My Life’s Song, this book focuses on one period of Bryan’s life and touches upon larger social issues, namely the treatment of black soldiers.
VERDICT This unique book, at times both beautiful and sadly horrifying, deserves to be studied and savored.

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