Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Her Hands The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage Alan Schroeder JaeMe Bereal

In Her Hands : The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage by Alan Schroeder illus. by JaeMe Bereal
Augusta Savage was one of the primary artist of the Harlem Renaissance. This is a picture book biography of Augusta's early years. The author quickly establishes young Augusta's love of clay, she creates clay animals in the backyard, even through her father disapproves. Augusta has the support of her mother and teachers.

I liked In Her Hands, though it read more like a story than a biography. I still didn't feel like I knew Augusta Savage. On the back of the book there is a lovely quote by Augusta Savage

"From the time I can first recall the rain falling on the red clay in Florida. I wanted to make things. When my brothers and sisters were making mud pies, I would be making ducks and chickens with the mud."

After reading that I thought, this is an artist I would like to get to know. I was hoping to read more of Augusta's words. Two things I look for in a biography quotes and dates. They keep a biography grounded in fact. When I read a picture book biography I expect authors to fill in gaps and try to keep young readers interest. As long as there are quotes and dates that can be verified I actually look forward this aspect of a children's picture book biography.

There are no dates In Her Hands and the only quote is the one on the back. I know part of the problem is the author didn't have much information on Augusta Savage to work with but still I need something that says this is a biography about Augusta Savage and not a story. I didn't get that.

I would still recommend In Her Hands. It will make young readers aware of Augusta Savage, a not so well known talented artist and the Harlem Renaissance. Its also a good introduction to the art of sculpting. I enjoyed the afterword. Its filled with the facts and dates I was looking for. Schroeder mentions some of Savage's well know busts, including ones of W.E.B Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. The one of Du Bois was featured in the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library for more than 35 yrs. In the 1930 she created a sculpure for the World's Fair in New York. The two page afterword with a photograph of Augusta Savage in her studio help make this book for me.


evelyn.n.alfred said...

I didn't know anything about Augusta Savage. Thanks for posting this.

Amy Bowllan said...

I just read this book to my 6th graders and they LOVED it! I also asked them the question, "what matters most to you in life?" which provoked great discussion.

So glad you posted this. :)


Tarie Sabido said...

I'd love to read this book. I love reading about artists. =D

Are sixth graders the target readership of the book?

Doret said...

Evelyn -I didn't know about Augusta Savage, until this year

Thanks Amy -It nice to know a class loved this book.

Tarie - I enjoy reading about artist as well. The book says ages 6up and that sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

So, would this be appropriate for a middle school media center?

Doret said...

I think so Edi,I think you would love the Afterword and it would be a good way to introduce the Harlem Renaissance.

Zetta said...

I love Augusta! Now we just need a book on Elizabeth Catlett--unless there is one already?