Monday, February 11, 2008

Ashley Bryan: Let it Shine

Last week, I wrote about the winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, but have you seen the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner, Let it Shine?

Let it Shine is an illustrated collection of three popular spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In," and "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands." Each page is filled with rollicking, brightly colored construction paper cutouts that truly make the lyrics shine.

I've been using Ashely Bryan's illustrated song collections for years, and I'm so glad to see this new, gorgeous collection get some attention. Not that Mr. Bryan is any stranger to the Coretta Scott King Award. This is his third book to win the award, and five other Bryan books have won the Coretta Scott King Honor Award (which is basically runner-up).

Bryan has been illustrating poetry, African folk tales, spirituals and more since the early 1970's, and he is a great advocate for preserving traditional storytelling and song. I found this great Ashley Bryan quote in a 1998 Washington Post article:

"Be strongly rooted in who you are – your people and what they have had to offer, then reach out and draw upon the gifts of other peoples of the world."
Here are my two very favorite Ashley Bryan books:

All Night, All Day: A Child's First Book of African American Spirituals (This is where I first learned the song Great Big Stars, which is now one of my favorite songs of all time.)

What a Morning: The Christmas Story in Black Spirituals (This is where I learned Mary Had a Baby.)

Apparently, Ashley Bryan lives on an island off the coast of Maine, and this article about his storytelling performances makes me want to be sure to keep my eye out for any readings he might do in the area. "I don't just read the words, I try to roll them up to Heaven," Bryan says.

Here are some great reviews of Let it Shine:
Fuse #8
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

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