In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children's literature's top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg's quest to correct history.
Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked.
Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro-Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk's life's passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg's collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.
"*Starred Review* Lifelong bibliophile Arturo Schomburg would be pleased by Weatherford's prose-poem biography, which praises his passion for researching and collecting books, manuscripts, and other written materials relating to black heritage and history. A Puerto Rico-born New Yorker, Schomburg's quest began when he was a student. Meticulous, he continued his avocation while working as a law clerk in New York City. The centerpiece of the book is a poem called Whitewash, in which Schomburg reflects on a number of famous people with historically unacknowledged African roots: John James Audubon, Alexandre Dumas, Alexander Pushkin, and even Ludwig van Beethoven, whose mother was thought to be a Moor from North Africa (So when genius was black, skin color was left out). Velasquez's portraits of these talents are consistently heroic, while pictures of Schomburg himself, a man of positive stature and bearing, are warm and full of pride. His personal story (three marriages, time at Fisk University, and a place in the Harlem Renaissance) is woven seamlessly with info about those men and women he researched. A time line, source notes, and a bibliography are included, useful for those, like Schomburg himself, who like to seek out more material. As with her previous book Voice of Freedom (2015), Weatherford illuminates a person well worth knowing. A rich book to add to all collections.--Cruze, Karen Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In graceful free verse, Weatherford delivers a remarkable tribute to Arturo Schomburg, the Afro-Puerto Rican historian, collector, and activist who unearthed the hidden history and achievements of "Africa's sons and daughters." In addition to charting the path Schomburg's life took after emigrating to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, she gives ample attention to the knowledge he uncovered as he amassed books: "Schomburg chased the truth and turned up icons/ whose African heritage had been whitewashed," among them John James Audubon, Alexandre Dumas, and Alexander Pushkin, all of whom are captured with vibrancy and life in Velasquez's oil portraits. Schomburg's ambitions, scholarship, and accomplishments were tremendous-"There was no field of human endeavor/ that he did not till with his determined hand"-and Weatherford and Velasquez more than do justice to them. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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