I've always admired the work of Brian Pinkney. There's something striking about his artwork with its marvelous twists and swirls, the richness of the colors blended with the black ink... the fact that he often scratches away ink to define his subjects, filling white spaces with color. He's an amazing illustrator, writer, and collaborator.
I've always admired the work of Andrea David Pinkney. Her words are rich and haunting. I read once that she never leaves home without her writing notebook. She's a writer's role model. She has the incredible knack of transforming important ideas into captivating words... topics of great human interest.
I've always admired the collaborations between this amazing couple. What I love most about the Pinkneys is their sense of family. In every interview I have read or in any talk that I've heard, both mention that family is their priority. They share their family focus with honesty and humor. For them to collaborate on Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America is a gift to all of us. It provides us with an important message about life.
In the book, Andrea tells the stories of ten men who, through education and learning, overcame the injustices that they faced. Freedom... justice... equality... honor... those are the themes that resonate throughout this book. Ms. Pinkney has written ten stunning biographies of black men whose lives have impacted society in a variety ways. As I read this book, however, her words transcended race as she shared the stories of fortitude, endurance, and patience. This book is about men who faced adversity with power and grace... and she tells each man's story by focusing on his vision for making his world a better place.
Each man's story is coupled with a poem. The biographical poetry that precedes each piece is the perfect synthesis of the story it introduces. As I read, I found myself moving from poem, to story, back to poem, back to story. What a wonderful mentor Ms. Pinkey is for writers... the structure of this text will serve young writers well.
I plan to use this text when my students write biographies of famous Coloradans. I've been searching for books that create that juxtapose between poetry and biography. Which comes first? I'll leave that up to the writer, but what a grand way to write with intention and purpose. Stunning!
And, Brian's illustrations are breathtaking. The portraits are captivating. As I write this, I'm looking into the eyes of Pinkey's Jackie Robinson and I'm mesmerized. The catchlight in his eyes. The slight swirl on his left cheek. The hint of red on his brow. Mr. Pinkey's illustrations are magical really.
If, like me, you are drawn to the Pinkey's work, you'll love this collection; particularly if you work with older children. As we celebrate civil rights in America, this collection shouldn't go unnoticed! Ms. Pinkey writes, "It is my hope that the qualities embodied in the stories of each Hand in Hand man will encourage young readers to build connections that will link them to their birthright of excellence." The sooner this book makes it into the hands of students, the sooner her hope will come to fruition.