Reviews for In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall : African Americans Celebrating Fathers


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 1998
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. The son of John Steptoe has a true winner in fact, receiving the 1998 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his first picture book. Javaka Steptoe creates a splendid series of images in mixed media--from found objects, torn and cut paper, and color--to illustrate a series of short poems about fathers. From the stark simplicity of David Anderson's "Promises," with its cut-paper silhouette figure of a child's hug seen from behind his dad, to the many-layered image of shells, kente cloth, and paper for Sonia Sanchez's "My Father's Eyes," to the shirt made from a scrap of old tin ceiling in the evocative illustration for Carole Boston Weatherford's "Farmer," these arresting illustrations are a rich foil for the singing tenderness of the poetry. Different in spirit and texture but with the same warmth and joy as Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly's Lots of Dads (1997), this promises read-aloud and read-to-share comfort for many readings and rereadings. ((Reviewed February 15, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
The son of the late illustrator John Steptoe has made a stunning debut in a collection of poetry honoring African-American fathers. Images created by using a variety of materials and art forms are often a perfect match for poems by such writers as Angela Johnson, Davida Adedjouma, and E. Ethelbert Miller. This title will be as at home in art classrooms as in language arts classes and libraries. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1998 #1
Javaka Steptoe provides stunning illustrations to this collection of poetry that honors African American fathers. The poets represented are both established and new, and the poetry ranges from ordinary to out-standing. Because all of the poems seek to honor and pay tribute to black fathers, most share a similarly filial tone. Certain poems, particularly those by Angela Johnson, E. Ethelbert Miller, Davida Adedjouma, and Steptoe himself, elevate this collection above the mundane, but it is the illustrations that set this volume apart. Steptoe uses a variety of materials and techniques and art forms to enhance the language of the poems, including torn paper, collages, realia, paintings, and drawings. In certain pairings of poem and image, the match is nothing less than perfect, such as the use of real pennies surrounding dress clothes to illustrate "The Things in Black Men's Closets" by Ethelbert Miller, or the childlike drawing that accompanies "Artist to Artist" by Davida Adedjouma. Steptoe's use of various textures elicits a strong desire to touch, and each page spread provides much to view, ponder, and discuss with young audiences. This title will be as at home in art classrooms as in language arts classes and libraries. deborah taylor Copyright 1999 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 October #4
This stunning homage to fathers offers a textured potpourri of voices and visuals. Love, pain, respect, adoration and just plain fun resonate in the works contributed by 12 poets, including Angela Johnson, Dakari Hru and Folami Abiade. A child's giggle-filled excitement reaches fever pitch in Hru's "Tickle Tickle" when he rough-houses with his dad: "me papa tickle me feet/ he call it `finger treat'/ me scream and run (but OH, WHAT FUN!)/ when papa tickle me feet." In Abiade's piece, a father wraps his child in reassurance : "in daddy's arms i am tall/ & close to the sun & warm/ in daddy's arms." Making his picture-book debut, Steptoe (son of the late Caldecott Honor artist John Steptoe) employs a wide variety of mixed-media techniques, offering a unique approach to each spread. The result is akin to strolling through an art gallery: wooden floor boards, burlap, buttons, pennies, seashells, tin and basketball leather are among the ingredients assembled here. Steptoe often renders central figures in cut- or torn-paper collage enhanced by chalk or pastel; one piece, inspired by Sanchez's "My Father's Eyes," measures 10 feet long and five feet high. Readers will find the poems universally accessible and the innovative artwork fresh and new at every turn. There is much to celebrate in this elegant volume, whether it's the strength and beauty of the poets' and artist's heritage or the loving bond between father and child that links all cultures. All ages. (Nov.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1998 January
Gr 3 Up?This innovative, stunningly illustrated picture book celebrates the role of fathers in the African-American experience. The artist illustrates 13 poems with collages made from paper with pastel; applique; and a multitude of found objects, including fabric, coins, seashells, buttons, sand, seeds, and leaves. The artwork vibrates with emotion; even the simplest pieces, showing torn-paper figures on a solid background, capture the powerful bond between parent and child. The poems, written by Angela Johnson, Davida Adedjouma, Carole Boston Weatherford, and others, depict fathers working in the fields and in post offices, playing basketball, fishing, tickling, or hugging. Steptoe's own poem, "Seeds," is a tribute to his father: "You drew pictures of life/with your words." Libraries will want this title for Black History Month, National Poetry Month, Father's Day, or anytime a patron asks for a book about fathers. Teachers will find it inspiring in classroom units on poetry, or it can be used in conjunction with David Diaz's work to demonstrate collage techniques in an art class. Whatever its use, this lovely book deserves a place on library shelves.?Dawn Amsberry, Oakland Public Library, CA

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