Today I’ve got a bit of art from Carole Boston Weatherford’s newest book, You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford and released by Atheneum this month. This is a series of poems, aimed at middle-school readers, about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
The poems are powerful, Weatherford bringing to life with vivid language the voices of these aviators, the first African-American military pilots of the war. She writes in a second-person voice—“You see the posters: Uncle Sam Wants You. / If only that meant in the cockpit.”—which brings the reader into the poems with an immediacy. It’s a very effective technique, as it gives space for the reader to imagine him or herself in the events Weatherford’s precise poetry conjures. The poems cover a wide range of tones, as Weatherford notes the pilots’ struggles, as well as their accomplishments. “[Weatherford’s] skill with language,” notes the Kirkus review, “provides clear voices for the trainees, and cultural specifics provide additional texture and deepen understanding of the young men.” The review closes: It’s a “masterful, inspiring evocation of an era.”