Everywhere Beauty Is Harlem: The Vision of Photographer Roy DeCarava

Astra/Calkins Creek. Jan. 2024. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781662680557.
K-Gr 3–Veteran creators and collaborators Golio and Lewis (Dark Was the Night) spotlight the experience and perspective of Harlem artist Roy DeCarava. Known for his black-and-white photographs of scenes of everyday life, DeCarava said he showed “the strength, the wisdom, the dignity of the Negro people.” Lewis’s watercolors play with light in an ode to that work, though where DeCarava is known for deep blacks and complex greys, Lewis’s watercolor illustrations are soft and light. Golio’s prose is swift, providing a single snapshot of words on each page, devoid of excess. While each element of this book is beautiful and skillfully executed, there is a disconnect between DeCarava’s work and this interpretation. Only three photographs grace the pages, all in the back matter: a portrait of DeCarava, a photo of his first camera, and a photo outside a Harlem apartment by an unknown photographer. The intensity—in emotion, tonality, and composition—of DeCarava’s work is absent here and a disservice to readers. Ultimately, this love letter to an incredible artist needs the scaffolding of an extended biography.
VERDICT Consider only for larger libraries and robust art/biography collections.

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