Review of Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!: Games, Songs & Stories from an African American Childhood

mckissack_let's clap, jump, sing & shoutLet’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!: Games, Songs & Stories from an African American Childhood
by Patricia C. McKissack; illus. by Brian Pinkney
Preschool, Primary, Intermediate    Schwartz & Wade/Random    171 pp.
1/17    978-0-375-87088-0    $24.99
Library ed.  978-0-375-97088-7    $27.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-307-97495-2    $12.99

Children’s book royalty and storyteller supreme, Patricia McKissack here compiles an impressive and cohesive treasury of African American children’s culture: “a collection of my favorite childhood games, songs, poetry, and stories that are directly linked to my African American heritage.” From hand-claps and jump-rope rhymes, through spirituals and gospel lyrics and Bible stories, to proverbs and poetry and folktales, the collection provides an informal history of African American life as well as something of a memoir for McKissack. For example, in one of the many conversational but illuminating notes that pepper the well-organized sections, she recalls reciting James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation” at “age fourteen at the Elk Oratorical Contest in Minneapolis in 1959.” With close to one hundred selections in all, the book might seem formidable, but the design is spacious and lightened by Pinkney’s swirling decorations in ink and watercolor. Although sourcing is only variously complete and readers will have to find melody lines for the songs elsewhere, this is a rich compilation to stand beside Rollins’s Christmas Gif’ (rev. 5/94) and Hamilton’s The People Could Fly (rev. 3/86). Index not seen.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

To commemorate Black History Month, we are highlighting a series of articles, speeches, and reviews from The Horn Book archive that are by and/or about African American authors, illustrators, and luminaries in the field — one a day through the month of February, with a roundup on Fridays. Click the tag HBBlackHistoryMonth17 and look for #HBBlackHistoryMonth17 on and @HornBook. You can find more resources about social justice and activism at our Talking About Race and Making a Difference resource pages.

The Horn Book celebrates Black History Month




Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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