Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Harlem Renaissance Party by Faith Ringgold –NO

Ringgold, Faith Harlem Renaissance Party Amistad (Imprint HarperpCollins), 2015. $17.99 PICTURE BOOK
A little boy and his Uncle take a plane ride back in time to the 1920’s to meet all the great of the Harlem Renaissance. They meet Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, and W.E.B Du Bois and more. They dance and listened to folktales. On the plane ride home the little boy tells his Uncle how proud he is to “be black”, that he was inspired, and that he learned a lot.
This was an incredibly bizarre book. Why a plane ride back in time? Then it’s a lightening quick meet and greet with tons of incredible people of the Harlem Renaissance. So quick that students wouldn’t really get a sense of the person, nor would it be helpful for a curriculum connection. Then to top it off, the boy talks about his pride in being black, but he is for all intents and purposes to students, White. His facial features appear a bit black, so we theorized he might be albino, or that the author has a strange way of relating the message about color being irrelevant to heritage (which is can be depending on dominant/recessive alleles), but then why create a book promoting accomplishments of  a group of people based solely on skin color? If so, why not have an introduction where the boy is curious about his heritage, so at least the student reader will get the drift from the very start. So confused. Also those blue shorts are just awful. Awful! That's a lot of leg for young boy to be showing, ick. For an amazing unit on the Harlem Renaissance, get video & music clips and some well written biographies instead.  
EL (K-3) –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

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