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About the Author
Nina Crews drew inspiration from her own neighborhood in creating the artwork for both this book and its celebrated companion, The Neighborhood Mother Goose. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
"Crews pairs sweeping photocollages with a dozen haiku written by Native Son author Wright during the final year of his life (he wrote some 4,000 haiku in total, 800 of which were later published, explains Crews in biographical notes). Candid images show African-American boys in fields and forests, docks and porches, in scenes that echo Wright's musings. 'As my delegate, / My shadow imitates me/ This first day of spring, ' he writes as a boy chases his shadow across snow-spattered grass. Elsewhere, a boy and an elderly man observe a patchwork freight train: 'Empty railroad tracks: / A train sounds in the spring hills/ And the rails leap with life.' The clustered, overlapping photographs scatter and dissipate at the edges of the spreads, subtly reflecting the evanescence of the moments Wright describes."--Publishers Weekly--Journal
"Award-winning illustrator Crews breathes new life into the poetry of the late Wright, who found solace and wonder in the traditional Japanese haiku form before he died. Wright is world-renowned as a master of language and chronicler of the African-American experience whose works remain discussed and relevant today. As his health began to fail him in 1959, Wright took to haiku as a way to try something new and to teach his teenage daughter about the natural wonders he remembered growing up among in the American South. In her photo-collage illustrations, Crews accents the haiku through the perspective of African-American boys, positioning readers to imagine the everyday sights and sounds of plants and animals, forests and farms through a young brown boy's eyes. Overlapping images fragment the landscapes but never the humans depicted, underscoring the longevity and permanence of the African-American people. Following that formula, the illustration for the titular haiku shows a young black boy with stick in hand and eye to the sky, which is so many blue squares, white space underneath promising a world without limits. The verse offers a warm natural optimism that may show an aging Wright's renewed hope: 'A spring sky so clear / That you feel you are seeing / Into tomorrow.' This loving, welcoming introduction to one of the most important American writers of the 20th century centers young black boys as supreme observers and interrogators of the natural wonders that surround them."--starred, Kirkus Reviews--Journal
"'Just enough of snow / For a boy's finger to write / His name on the porch.' This first haiku of 12 (selected from more than 4,000 haikus written by author Wright in his lifetime) is overlaid across the image of a child's gloved hand writing 'Richard' in the snow. The rest of the book follows the same pattern, with one haiku per spread alongside a related image of African American boys engaging with nature. Using her distinct, trademark style of realistic photo collage with child models, Crews deliberately photographed only black boys for this book because she 'wanted the reader to imagine the world through a young brown boy's eyes' as a tribute to Wright's determination that readers recognize and understand the African American experience. Supported by a short Wright biography in the back matter, the result is a strong, simple, relatable, immersive introduction to the traditional haiku and a poet who may not yet be familiar to young readers as well a gentle visual tribute to the young black male experience."--Booklist
"This book collects 12 of Wright's outstanding haiku, written 50 years ago and still available in the anthology, Haiku: The Last Poems of an American Icon. The poems offer a view of the world through the lens of his experience, but the appreciation of nature and the emotions felt in such moments have a universal appeal. Crews uses photo collage to illustrate each scene. She explains, 'I photographed African American boys for this book, because I wanted the reader to imagine the world through a young brown boy's eyes.' Crews shows familiar scenes of boys playing on a shady porch, walking a dog, or writing in snow with a mittened finger. Her chosen medium emphasizes how haiku creates snapshots of single instances or feelings. The final poem ends with the phrase 'seeing into tomorrow, ' which inspired the book's title. On the page, readers will see a young boy gazing up into a brilliant blue sky as if he can glimpse the future. An archival photo of Wright reading to his young daughter accompanies the introduction, and a brief biography of Wright along with a list for further reading is included in the back matter. A must for all children's collections. These verses are an introduction to haiku as well as an entry point into Wright's work; they can be read aloud to younger children or enjoyed independently by older readers."--starred, School Library Journal--Journal