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Review of That Is My Dream!

That Is My Dream!
by Langston Hughes; illus. by Daniel Miyares
Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    32 pp.
10/17    978-0-399-55017-1    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-399-55018-8    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-399-55019-5    $10.99

Langston Hughes’s 1924 poem “Dream Variation” tells of a wish “to fling my arms wide / In some place of the sun, / To whirl and to dance / Till the white day is done.” Miyares’s gouache illustrations show an African American child (the poem’s narrator) in the segregated South noticing his own family’s experiences on the bus, at the water fountain, etc., compared to those of a white boy and his family’s. Partway through the lyrical piece, the illustrations turn fantastical, now showing black and white children soaring on the backs of large birds, dancing, and enjoying one another’s company. Miyares uses color to enhance his message of unity: illustrations that depict segregation are in muted browns and grays, which contrast with the radiant yellows, tranquil greens, and orangey-pinks of the dreamlike sequence. The boy awakens from this vision holding a single bird feather. Was it a dream? There is much to notice in the way the illustrations of the two families mirror, yet depart from, each other. The sharp irony between words and pictures combined with the simple yet powerful message of hope offered by the dream produces a provocative book that invites children to think about race relations during another time and about the implications for today.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Hakim Azzam About Julie Hakim Azzam

Julie Hakim Azzam teaches in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh. While her academic specialization is on literature from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, she has a passion for children’s literature and has been interviewing children’s authors for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for many years.

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Comments

  1. Fabulous capsule review of a lovely and deeply moving book. Mr. Miyares is a master (His “Float” of course is righty beloved) as are several others like “Bring Me A Rock!” and here he takes on an adored work by one of America’s most celebrated literary icons, adroitly establishing some fo the ugly aspects of society at that time, employed as you aptly note “a sharp irony between words and pictures.” Inspirational.

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