Langston and Dave Before Breakfast

h1 February 3rd, 2011 by jules

“Dave kicked / his potter’s wheel / until it spun / as fast as /
a carnival’s wheel of fortune.”

(Click to enlarge spread.)

I know, I know. I often say “this post will be short and sweet,” and I then I start ramble typing. But it’s been a long week, and this truly will be brief.

The blog is being graced today with illustrations from Sean Qualls (who did one of my favorite 7-Imp interviews ever back in ’09, and that would be because he sent precisely one skerjillion images, and that’s the way I like to do ’em up, my friends — with a metric ton of art) and Bryan Collier. Sean is sharing over in Facebook land an illustration-a-day in honor of Black History Month, and I secured his permission to share Langston Hughes here:

The back cover (and one of the interior illustrations) from Laban Carrick Hill’s Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is at the top of this post. You may remember that this biography of American artist Dave the potter received a 2011 Caldecott Honor, and I’ve yet to feature it here at the ‘ol blawg. If you’ve yet to see this book, what Tony Horwitz at the New York Times called a “restrained and respectful treatment of the historical facts {of his life}” and School Library Journal called “{o}utstanding in every way,” you’re in for a treat.

Collier’s work in this one is lush and evocative. This is an illustrator I’ve tried in vain to have over for a breakfast interview, but maybe I’ll try again. I think his collage work is some of contemporary illustration’s most engaging. And, quite frankly, most superb. (In the case of Dave the Potter, it’s watercolor and collage.)

Below are some more from the book. Enjoy. (You can click on each spread below to see the collages up close. In fact, I highly recommend it.)

“To us / it is just dirt, / the ground we walk on. / Scoop up a handful. /
The gritty grains slip / between your fingers.”

“He threw the clay, / sometimes sixty pounds at once, / and nobody knew /
how or where it would land / except for Dave.”

* * * * * * *

Illustration from Sean Qualls copyright © 2011 and used with permission.

DAVE THE POTTER: ARTIST, POET, SLAVE. Text copyright © 2010 Laban Carrick Hill. Illustration © 2010 Bryan Collier. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, New York.

6 comments to “Langston and Dave Before Breakfast”

  1. Wonderful art from Mr. Collier and Mr. Qualls. I have to check out ‘Dave the Potter’ in full. And will definitely look in on Sean’s facebook illustration-a-day (surely a treat.)

    [Side note to Jules — the link included in bolded Sean Quall’s above is under construction. This one is working: ]

    Thanks for the lovely pictures, as always.

  2. Thanks, Denise. I’ll edit the post!

  3. This is such an absolutely wonderful book- everything about it. When I read Bryan’s beautiful dedication I actually started to cry- and I’m not a crier. (But I was having a sort of hard day.) I would recommend everyone read it!

  4. Dave’s gestures of deep engagement are beautiful in these illustrations. And I love Sean Quall’s work.

  5. I just finally got to see this book within the last week, and I was blown away. It is stunning–both in terms of art and story. I am committed to making sure I recommend it a lot so it doesn’t get lost out there in the collection.

  6. In my children’s publishing class we did a mock Caldecott the week before the awards were given. I remember seeing this one and thinking “that will win something.” Lo and behold, it did! It’s a gorgeous book, and I’d love to see an interview with the illustrator!

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