7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #647: Featuring Daniel Minter

h1 July 21st, 2019 by jules

“They caught the babies, / and catch them still, /
welcome them into the world, / for loving.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


“Midwives have been in the world probably as long as there have been human babies on earth.” Thus opens The Women Who Caught the Babies, a picture book by the legendary Eloise Greenfield, coming to shelves in September (Alazar Press) and illustrated by Daniel Minter. A five-page introduction kicks things off and is followed by a series of poems that follows African American midwives from slavery to the early 2000s. The book closes with a poem about the midwife who caught Greenfield herself, as well as some family photos.



A poem called “The Women” (the one under the image at the top of this post) opens and closes this collection. In between, Greenfield’s free verse poetry captures the work of women in Africa (“before the shackles”) who caught babies; the slaves brought to America who continued the work; the women after Emancipation who caught babies “born into freedom”; and midwives of the early 1900s and 2000s. It’s a spare, short collection with unfussy, direct language; the verses capture the powerful, loving, and unwavering work of these women, who guided humans into the world “with gentle, loving hands.” The verses are accompanied by Minter’s dramatic portraits — dominated by rich shades of blue — of women and babies, though one features a black man holding his “first child born into freedom,” and they are filled with symbolic patterns and images.

I’ve a few spreads here today to show you. (If you didn’t see Minter’s illustrations in Kelly Starling Lyons’s Going Down Home with Daddy, be sure to head here. It’s one of my favorite picture books this year.)


“Somewhere in the African past, / before the guns, before the / shackles …”
(Click image to read text in its entirety)


” … She would have to leave quickly. / The baby would not wait. / She had already packed her things, / her stethoscope, her scales / for weighing the baby, and / everything she would need.”
(Click image to read text in its entirety)


“Her cell phone rings. ‘Hurry!’ / the caller says, when the woman / answers. …”
(Click image to read text in its entirety)


THE WOMEN WHO CAUGHT THE BABIES: A STORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MIDWIVES. Text copyright © 2019 by Eloise Greenfield. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Daniel Minter and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Alazar Press, Carrboro, North Carolina.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) One of my oldest and best friends is a midwife, and I think I’ll have to get her a copy of this book. Also, I looooove hearing about her work.

2) This striking poem from Ross Gay that I read this week.

3) I got to talk to a group of librarians this week about my favorite picture books of the year.

4) The Horn Book’s 2018 retrospective.

5) They’ve announced a Steven Universe MOVIE!

6) The newly-announced Fresh Air archives.

7) Ideas and suggestions from colleagues and friends.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #647: Featuring Daniel Minter”

  1. Fly by! Hi everyone! I will check in tonight and catch up! 🙂

  2. These illustrations are so breathtakingly beautiful, and powerful, thank you for sharing your work Daniel.

    Jules – what a full week you’ve had. That Ross Gay poem brought me to tears, thank you for the link.

    Hi Little Willow!

    My kicks this week:
    1) A very fun work event with colleagues I don’t get to see very often.
    2) Being giddy with the idea of a window of free time.
    3) Short trip to see family.
    4) Getting to finally meet my 2 little great-nephews. They are 2 & 4 and loads of fun.
    5) Staying in a charming hotel that used to be a mansion – it has the feel of an old Hollywood hotel.
    6) Introducing my nieces to The Good Place.
    7) My niece’s 2 dogs, who are 14 and 13, remembering me after 6 years. They are sweethearts.
    7.5) Walks in the warm sunshine and family.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Oh, wow. That looks powerful. Thank you for sharing the stories and artwork.

    Jules: Wow to that poem.

    Rachel: Yay for family + friends + pets + free time!

    My kicks:
    1) Intentional cinematography
    2) Singing
    3) Catching up
    4) Hydrating
    5) Rehearsing
    6) Balancing
    7) Trying

  4. Rachel, what a good week! I’m glad you got to see family — AND had some free time.

    LW: That first kick is a rare two-word LW kick! And trying, yes. May we always.

    Have a good week, you two!

  5. […] Review of The Women Who Caught The Babies from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast […]

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