They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of
the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like
climbin up on a gate." Hamilton's The People Could Fly: American
Black Folktales (1985) won a Coretta Scott King Award, and the
Dillons here reissue its heartbreaking title story with gorgeous,
all-new, full-color paintings. Legend has it that some people in
Africa could fly, but when they were shipped to America as slaves,
they shed their black, shiny wings (reflected as feathers on the
glossy black endpapers). When a mother and her baby are brutally
whipped in the cotton fields, an old slave resurrects his magic and
helps her and others fly away, free as birds, leaving the
non-magical slaves behind to tell the tale. Like the story, the
paintings are both hopeful and somber, and the slaves are as
graceful and softly luminous as the slave owners are stiff,
pinched, and cruel. A dreamy, powerful picture-book tribute to both
Hamilton and the generations-old story. (editor's note, author's
note) (Picture book. 9-12) (Kirkus Reviews)
"THE PEOPLE COULD FLY," the title story in Virginia Hamilton's
prize-winning American Black folktale collection, is a fantasy tale
of the slaves who possessed the ancient magic words that enabled
them to literally fly away to freedom. And it is a moving tale of
those who did not have the opportunity to "fly" away, who remained
slaves with only their imaginations to set them free as they told
and retold this tale.
Leo and Diane Dillon have created powerful new illustrations in
full color for every page of this picture book presentation of
Virginia Hamilton's most beloved tale. The author's original
historical note as well as her previously unpublished notes are
Awards for "The People Could Fly" collection:
A Coretta Scott King Award
A "Booklist" Children's Editors' Choice
A "School Library Journal" Best Books of the Year
A "Horn Book" Fanfare
An ALA Notable Book
An NCTE Teachers' Choice
A "New York Times" Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year
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