Harlem at Four

Random House Studio. Sept. 2023. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593429334.
PreS-Gr 2–This book tells the story of two Harlems. The first part follows a modern Black family, a single father and his daughter Harlem. When Harlem is four years old, her father takes her to an art museum, where they see works by famous Black artists, including Romare Bearden and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Later, the pair dances to John Coltrane and Miles Davis on the street and create science and art projects in their apartment. The father is in awe of his daughter’s fierceness and confidence: “And your eyelashes brush/ A Super Daddy ‘S’/ Across my beating chest.” The second part tells the story of the Harlem neighborhood in 1904. It serves as a tribute to Philip A. “Papa” Payton, Jr., who helped to start the Great Black Migration and the Black housing explosion in Harlem through the Afro-American Realty Company. Payton paved the way for Black families to thrive in Harlem, and for the father and daughter in the beginning of the book to later bond over the work of Black artists from Harlem who were inspired by their community. This book is a beautiful celebration of Harlem’s history and a loving relationship between a father and daughter. Morrison’s vibrant, dynamic images bring the characters and neighborhood to life. Back matter includes a glossary of notable people, places, and phrases featured throughout the book.
VERDICT A moving tribute to two Harlems, and a must-purchase for all school and public libraries.

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