Sail Away by Langston Hughes (Book Review)
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Langston Hughes is most famous for writing poetry but he wrote all types of literature. The Harlem Renaissance writer used his work as a platform for activism, which also included plays, novels, and short stories. I read some of his poems in high school and his work could be considered safe to integrate into public classrooms.
When I think of Hughes, I think of his short form works like "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," standing alone in it's water theme. But, did you know that he has an entire collection of poems dedicated to the love of the water? Sail Away is a collection of poems exploring the ideas of powerful oceans, running rivers, and the people who interact with them. Each poem is a contained idea, most of them short and only a few lines.
The beautiful artwork accompanying each poem is created by Ashley Bryan, an award winning writer and illustrator who grew up in the Bronx. He's written over 50 books, and his style of art is uniquely recognizable as his own. His vibrant colors and papier-mâché style is what attached me to choose this book from the shelf.
I wasn't particularly moved by every poem, but Hughe's poetry is memorable. Bryan's artwork is even more so. My children were fascinated with it and helped pull them into the words. The papier-mâché artwork is a perfect medium to convey the wonders of the ocean through Bryan's rich colors and sometimes strange imagery. You can find more books by Ashley Bryan on his website here. He has written and illustrated over 50 books. I didn't know much about him until this book but his work is prolific.
Although you could read this book cover to cover in one sitting, I would suggest you choose one poem at a time to read and talk about. If you are an avid reader and collector of Langston Hughe's poetry, this would be a great add to your home library. For me, I was satisfied borrowing it from my local library and sharing it with my girls. This book is suggested for children ages 4-8.
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About the Author
Black & Bookish is the brainchild of Antoinette Scully, educator and lover of all things bookish. She is on a quest to fill your bookshelves with beloved authors of the African Diaspora. When she's not hanging out on line, she's living it up as the mother of two rambunctious girls and wife of a local filmmaker.