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Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children's Picture Books, 1845-2002

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Brown Gold is a compelling history and analysis of African-American children's picturebooks from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. At the turn of the nineteenth century, good children's books about black life were hard to find -- if, indeed, young black readers and their parents could even gain entry into the bookstores and libraries. But today, in the "Golden Age Brown Gold is a compelling history and analysis of African-American children's picturebooks from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. At the turn of the nineteenth century, good children's books about black life were hard to find -- if, indeed, young black readers and their parents could even gain entry into the bookstores and libraries. But today, in the "Golden Age" of African-American children's picturebooks, one can find a wealth of titles ranging from Happy to be Nappy to Black is Brown is Tan. In this book, Michelle Martin explores how the genre has evolved from problematic early works such as Epaminondas that were rooted in minstrelsy and stereotype, through the civil rights movement, and onward to contemporary celebrations of blackness. She demonstrates the cultural importance of contemporary favorites through keen historical analysis -- scrutinizing the longevity and proliferation of the Coontown series and Ten Little Niggers books, for example -- that makes clear how few picturebooks existed in which black children could see themselves and their people positively represented even up until the 1960s. Martin also explores how children's authors and illustrators have addressed major issues in black life and history including racism, the civil rights movement, black feminism, major historical figures, religion, and slavery. Brown Gold adds new depth to the reader's understanding of African-American literature and culture, and illuminates how the round, dynamic characters in these children's novels, novellas, and picturebooks can put a face on the past, a face with which many contemporary readers can identify.


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Brown Gold is a compelling history and analysis of African-American children's picturebooks from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. At the turn of the nineteenth century, good children's books about black life were hard to find -- if, indeed, young black readers and their parents could even gain entry into the bookstores and libraries. But today, in the "Golden Age Brown Gold is a compelling history and analysis of African-American children's picturebooks from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. At the turn of the nineteenth century, good children's books about black life were hard to find -- if, indeed, young black readers and their parents could even gain entry into the bookstores and libraries. But today, in the "Golden Age" of African-American children's picturebooks, one can find a wealth of titles ranging from Happy to be Nappy to Black is Brown is Tan. In this book, Michelle Martin explores how the genre has evolved from problematic early works such as Epaminondas that were rooted in minstrelsy and stereotype, through the civil rights movement, and onward to contemporary celebrations of blackness. She demonstrates the cultural importance of contemporary favorites through keen historical analysis -- scrutinizing the longevity and proliferation of the Coontown series and Ten Little Niggers books, for example -- that makes clear how few picturebooks existed in which black children could see themselves and their people positively represented even up until the 1960s. Martin also explores how children's authors and illustrators have addressed major issues in black life and history including racism, the civil rights movement, black feminism, major historical figures, religion, and slavery. Brown Gold adds new depth to the reader's understanding of African-American literature and culture, and illuminates how the round, dynamic characters in these children's novels, novellas, and picturebooks can put a face on the past, a face with which many contemporary readers can identify.

31 review for Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children's Picture Books, 1845-2002

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cara Byrne

    Martin's work provides a thorough examination of African American children's literature, from well-known classics like _The Snowy Day_ and _Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children_ to more obscure picture books like _Hazel_ and _The Sweet and Sour Animal Book_, while also discussing the pedagogical value of discussing these books at different educational levels. I was glad that she included a couple of paragraphs describing how she selected works that she feels qualify as falling under th Martin's work provides a thorough examination of African American children's literature, from well-known classics like _The Snowy Day_ and _Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children_ to more obscure picture books like _Hazel_ and _The Sweet and Sour Animal Book_, while also discussing the pedagogical value of discussing these books at different educational levels. I was glad that she included a couple of paragraphs describing how she selected works that she feels qualify as falling under the Black children’s literature genre, ending up siding with “inclusion” rather than excluding authors who are biracial, writing/illustrating duos from different racial backgrounds, and white writers who have “unremarkably black” characters or represent Black history in a positive way (xix). Martin locates German Heinrich Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter (1845) as her historical starting point, for this book’s “The Story of the Inky Boys,” is “one of the first texts internationally that, in roundly condemning racial prejudice, attempted to deliver a positive message about a child of color” (xx). From there, she brings in at least a hundred works and exams them with different critical lenses. After finishing the book, I have added about 20 picture books to my "to read" list after reading this book, including Hughes and Bontemps' _Popo and Fifina_ and Clifton's _The Black BCs_. Overall, an important and great read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

  3. 4 out of 5

    Judith Grace

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laretta

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Lawrence

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Schwartzberg

  9. 5 out of 5

    Annette Wannamaker

  10. 5 out of 5

    Megan Dowd

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica DeYoung Kander

  12. 5 out of 5

    Candid Taylor

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ken Evangelista

  14. 5 out of 5

    Roopsi

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mikaila Ribianszky

  17. 5 out of 5

    KLB Barsotti

  18. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Stewart

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura Thacker

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ida Carey

  21. 4 out of 5

    Addy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tanisha Gilbert

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  24. 4 out of 5

    LORRAINE

  25. 4 out of 5

    a r

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raye Alexis

  27. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  30. 5 out of 5

    Annette McDuffey

  31. 5 out of 5

    Karly Grice

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