How can there be such beauty and power in so few words? How can you get such a strong feel for the time, the place, the man? You have to read it to understand. It would take me more words to explain it than the book holds. I’m just glad this artist of the 19th century has been brought to life by two artists of the 21st. Laban Carrick Hill captures the essence of Dave with words that appear simple, yet are multi-layered, much like Dave, himself. Bryan Collier (whose praises I’ve sung before) creates a world of depth and meaning. Look closely at the illustrations for hints, e.g., Dave lived in the “Quaker Belt” of North Carolina, hence the references to “Friends.” His art is approachable, believable, tangible, tactile — again, like Dave. And the tree, oh! The tree. You must see the tree.
It’s a beautiful package, so deserving of its many awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award and a Caldecott Honor. Thank you Laban, Bryan, and Dave for giving us information and inspiration.