Fourteen original poems offer young readers an exciting glimpse into the life of Langston Hughes, one of America's most beloved poets. Each of Medina's engaging poems explores an important theme in Hughes' life - his lonely childhood, his love of language and travel, his dream of writing poetry. Extensive notes at the back of the book expand upon the poems, giving a broader picture of Hughes' life and the time in which he lived. With stunning illustrations by R. Gregory Christie, Love To Langston brings Langston Hughes to life for a new generation of readers.
"These four new titles add to the growing number of books about Hughes published for young people. Rhynes' I, Too, Sing America, in the World Writers series, is the most traditional biography of the group. Chapters follow Hughes' life from birth to death, covering major relationships and events, as well as Hughes' intellectual and artistic ideas and efforts. The text is informative but dry, often switching abruptly between events. Best are the numerous quotes and the links between Hughes' work and personal life and descriptions that show the difficulty of a writer's life. A chronology, extensive sources notes, and a bibliography will make this useful for reports, and browsers will like the black-and-white photos. Walker's picture-book-size biography Langston Hughes: American Poet, first published in 1974, returns to print with lively new artwork. It is an excellent introduction to Hughes, focusing mainly on his adolescence and early adulthood. The text is romanticized in places, but the engaging, anecdotal style is perfect for read-alouds, and the brief sentences and simple vocabulary make the book a good choice for beginning and struggling readers. Deeter's realistic paintings capture the text's pivotal moments. Medina's Love to Langston uses poetry to tell Hughes' life story, presenting traditional biographical information in appended notes. Many poems focus on events in Hughes' life, and Medina often uses verse to define historical terms: "Jim Crow is a law / that separates white and black / making white feel better / and black feel left back." Some selections move beyond biography to celebrate Hughes' passions--jazz, literature, and the Harlem streets--and the sliding, syncopated beats and unexpected rhymes are reminiscent of spoken-word poetry. The art is uneven; the self-conscious, awkward angles of Christie's naive-style paintings are at odds with the celebratory mood of many poems, drowning out some of the subtle wordplay. Nonetheless, teachers and students will welcome this creative effort, particularly when the text is read with the concluding notes. In Visiting Langston, Perdomo offers a poetic tribute that celebrates Hughes' legacy rather than the events of his life. "Today I'm going to wear / My favorite pink blouse / I'm going with my daddy / to visit Langston's house," begins the rhymed text, written in an unnamed girl's voice. The child tells a bit about Hughes in a few oblique lines but mostly talks about herself--her likes and dislikes, her poetry, and the affinity she feels for Hughes. The brief lines sometimes scan awkwardly, interfering with the poem's momentum, but the girl's fierce pride, excitement, and curiosity will grab readers, as will Collier's exquisite collages, which mix rich textures, urban scenes, and contemporary people celebrating the impact of a legend's words. A page of facts and a listing of Hughes' works provide the only standard biographical information. The picture-book format may deter some older children, but many will be drawn to the book by its vibrant, sophisticated images, strong voice, and the speaker's powerful invitation to find oneself within the work and lives of legendary artists. Gillian Engberg"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Medina's (DeShawn Days) introduction states that his book "represents one Harlem poet's homage to another," and this compilation exudes affection for the Harlem Renaissance muse. The events of Langston Hughes's life inspire 14 impressionistic, free-verse poems. Some entries might be difficult for youngsters to interpret without referring to the author's concluding notes, which succinctly explain the relevance of each poem. In "First Grade," for instance, the narrator laments that "The teacher makes me sit in the corner in the last row far away from the other kids" and "tells one kid not to eat licorice or he'll turn black like me." The notes explain that when Hughes attended first grade in Topeka, Kans., in 1907, his teacher "took out her racist attitudes on Langston." Hughes's love of books, his disdain for his father and the inspiration he gleaned from Harlem and from jazz are among the topics of subsequent poems. Though Medina incorporates some of Hughes's style (refrains such as "Libraries/ are a special place/ for me") and layout, few of the poems build to an emotional climax. The content of the poems outweighs its impact. Still, Medina's solid research and accessible presentation may well lead readers to the work of Hughes himself. Christie contributes stylized acrylics, but unlike his artwork in Only Passing Through, the paintings here do not reflect the subject's many moods. A standout is the spread "Leaving Harlem for Africa," which shows the poet bound for unexplored shores. Ages 6-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved