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The Sweet and Sour Animal Book
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About the Author

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was one of the most versatile writers of the artistic movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Though known primarily as a poet, he also wrote plays essays, novels, short stories, and books and poems for children. Ben Vereen has left his mark on the Broadway stage, concert circuit, and in film and television. He has also been widely honored for his humanitarian activities and work with young people. George P. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Brooklyn College. The Harlem School of the Arts provides instruction in music, dance, drama, and visual arts to more than 1,500 students every year. Many of the first, second, and third grade students who participated in this project are part ofOpportunities for Learning in the Arts, a program that offers arts instruction for public school students during the school day.

Reviews

What could possibly add to the excitement of publishing a long-lost manuscript by one of the century's most important African American writers? The folks at Oxford offer an inspired answer: a classroom full of young creative talent. In this fresh, imaginative alphabet book, 26 newly discovered poems by Hughes are teamed with 3-D works by first-, second- and third-graders at the Harlem School of the Arts. The result is a marvelous union of graphics and text, alight with color and whimsy. Hughes's poems are models of brevity and wit (``There was a camel/ Who had two humps./ He thought in his youth/ They were wisdom bumps./ Then he learned/ They were nothing but humps-/ And ever since he's/ Been in the dumps''). Called forth from these words, the students' menagerie-created from clay, paper, paint and cardboard, and unfettered by artistic preconceptions-are laugh-out-loud wonderful, from the solemn, pop-eyed flock of owls to the bright explosion of fish that graces the front cover. A foreword by Ben Vereen (a friend of Hughes) and afterword by George Cunningham give the book additional heft. All ages. (Oct.)

"From Ape to Zebra, the short poems reflect Hughes's childlike wonder as well as his sense of humor."--The New York Times Book Review "An enchanting edition.... Will delight children and endure as a unique tribute to Hughes."--Smithsonian "A marvelous union of graphics and text alight with color and whimsy.... Laugh-out-loud wonderful."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "From Ape to Zebra, the short poems reflect Hughes's childlike wonder as well as his sense of humor."--The New York Times Book Review "A droll and dapper menagerie, celebrating in verse one creature for each letter of the alphabet.... An enchanting edition.... Will delight children and endure as a unique tribute to Hughes, a man not only noted for his genius but beloved for his humor and his humanity."--Smithsonian "A marvelous union of graphics and text, alight with color and whimsy.... Laugh-out-loud wonderful."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) `Short, snappy poems depict animals from ape to zebra, including bees, elephants, owls, and the 'Happy unreal Unicorn!'"--AB Bookman's Weekly "From Ape to Zebra, the short poems reflect Hughes's childlike wonder as well as his sense of humor."--The New York Times Book Review "A droll and dapper menagerie, celebrating in verse one creature for each letter of the alphabet.... An enchanting edition.... Will delight children and endure as a unique tribute to Hughes, a man not only noted for his genius but beloved for his humor and his humanity."--Smithsonian "Hughes's poems are models of brevity and wit.... A marvelous union of graphics and text, alight with color and whimsy.... The students' menagerie is laugh-out-loud wonderful."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

PreS-Gr 5‘Twenty-seven previously unpublished, alphabetically arranged verses about animals, written in 1936. Though humorous and ostensibly non-political, this imaginative romp has a bittersweet undercurrent: ``A lion in a zoo,/Shut up in a cage,/Lives a life/Of smothered rage./A lion in the plain,/Roaming free,/Is happy as ever/A lion can be.'' Children from The Harlem School of the Arts have created brightly painted, three-dimensional clay or paper creatures to accompany the poems; full-color photographs of these sculptures are placed next to the selections. A lowercase letter in script appears on each spread; some letters are superimposed on the text. Ben Vareen's introduction and George P. Cunningham's afterword should help adults appreciate the work; children, however, will need no help in responding to the book's creative spirit. An inspired artistic collaboration.‘Judy Greenfield, Rye Free Reading Room, NY

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