Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dave the Potter; Artist, Poet, Slave

Hill, Laban Carrick. 2010. DAVE THE POTTER; ARTIST, POET, SLAVE. Ill. by Bryan Collier. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316107310 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

The true story of Dave, a slave, potter, and poet in South Carolina in the 1800’s unfolds through the simple, poetic descriptions of turning earth into pottery and into art. The spare text and the earth-tone illustrations give this story dignity and impact. The focus is on his art and craft, but the backdrop suggests difficult details from the times. Excellent endnotes (from both author and illustrator) help expand the work, including sources and web sites.

Through poetic text and award winning illustrations, we get a glimpse into the process of creating jars and pots out of the earth, often gigantic in size and practical in usefulness. In addition, Dave’s practice of writing brief lines and phrases on the pottery itself serves as a fascinating mystery into his own background and the meaning of his poetic messages.

Encourage readers to explore the related web sites provided in the back matter to look for more examples of Dave’s pots and poems. Invite a local potter to visit to share his/her process and examples. Bring clay for students to try molding into small pots themselves.

Other picture books about slaves who made an impact on history:
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. ISBN 9780140566222
Schroeder, Alan. Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman. ISBN 9780140561968
Lester, Julius. JOHN HENRY. ISBN 9780140566222

By Sylvia M. Vardell

No comments: