There Was a Party for Langston: King O’ Letters

Recorded Books. Oct. 2023.. 6p. $7.99. ISBN 9798890594921.
PreS-Gr 3–Reynolds is a richly resonating, flawless cipher for his exuberant celebration of Langston Hughes. His author’s note explains how he discovered a photo of “two of [his] favorite word makers, Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka … dancing” and had to know why, then had to share that revelation in a book. For utmost enlightenment, combining audio and print is essential. Award-winning Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey’s illustrations are pure brilliance, transforming Reynolds’s words into pictures—“BLUES” becomes a musical trio, “MOTHER” a woman enveloping her child, “MAYA” and “AMIRI” boogie-ing partners. The party’s details are never mentioned in audio and solely visible in the brothers’ art. Only in print can audiences revel in the chorus of legendary witnesses (in alphabetical order, mimicking library shelves)—from Octavia Butler to Richard Wright—who overlook the “dazzle.”
VERDICT Reynolds and the Pumphreys lovingly bestow upon “the king of letters” exactly what he deserves.

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