Friday, April 5, 2013

Dave The Potter - Perfect Picture Book Friday



In earlier posts this year I reviewed the most recent Charlotte Zolotow award winning books. In that same vein I’ve been reading (or re-reading) the Caldecott winners. Although I’m not an artist, I believe that many of the Caldecott winners were inspired by the words in their stories (if there were words!). 
The book I review today is one of those amazing word/illustration combinations, a 2010 Caldecott Honor book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. This is a gem. It illuminates a personal journey and transports the reader in time. Read it, man, read it (Did you hear the Scottish accent of the Scotts brand lawn product spokesperson when you read the last sentence? If not, go back and try again.)

Title: Dave the Potter


Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2010

Audience: ages 3 and up 

Themes: Biography, Individuality, Art, Black History

Opening: Let me preface the words by saying how much I LOVE them—
“To us
It is just dirt,
The ground we walk on.
Scoop up a handful.
The gritty grains slip
Between your fingers.”

Synopsis: The author’s lyrical prose tells the story of a slave whose talent allowed him to make some of the biggest clay pots in colonial America. Other potters didn’t have the strength to lift the clay or the talent to keep it from collapsing. Amazingly, although slaves weren’t supposed to learn to read or write, Dave inscribed his pots with lines of poetry and anecdotes of the age, preserving a piece of history for generations. Get out your thesaurus and find the word 'stunning' --the text and illustrations are all of these.

Resources: I am not the only person who loves this book. There is a Youtube reading from ReadMeAStory1, but I didn't embed the link because it didn't move me as much as reading the book on my own. Other videos talk about the book in the context of an actual potter's work. If you can put up with the bad audio, you might like this.  If you search "Dave the Potter activities" online, you will get pages of suggestions. My favorite is from the Milwaukee Art Museum's participation in The Dave Project. Pages of suggestions there alone. If you had fifteen words that would last forever, what would you want to say? Get out the clay and make your own lasting tribute to Dave. The publisher's website has a teacher's guide for classroom activities. 

If you had fifteen words that would last forever, what would you want to say? 
This certainly puts the under 500 word picture book preference into perspective! I'm thinking on my fifteen words...

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.

17 comments:

  1. Oh, Wendy, I love this book. I read it for my nonfiction class with Anastasia Suen. Bryan Collier is such a powerful illustrator.

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  2. I have my own copy. Not for the kids :)

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  3. Wendy, this book is one that you want to keep for yourself. I just love it! So much power in the illustrations.

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    1. The words and illustrations are magic together.

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  4. I adore this book. I think I added it to the PPBF list as one of the first I reviewed, but it is worth doing many shout outs for. Very powerful.

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    1. In re-reading, I enjoyed it even more.

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    1. May we all be able to leave our mark on the world so eloquently.

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  6. Amazing, touching and inspiring. Great find, thanks Wendy!

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  7. Heading to the library website to reserve - this looks like an incredible book

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    1. Hope it's on the shelves so you don't have to wait!

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  8. I love inspirational books like this! Thanks for the rec.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the selection, Laura.

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  9. This is a great choice. I got to hear Bryan Collier speak at the SCBWI-LA annual summer conference last year about the making of this book and I was blown away. My kids, who are quite young, were also fascinated by this story and the fact that it was based on a true story. Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. That sounds wonderful! To attend the conference, and to hear Bryan Collier speak.

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  10. What a wonderful choice for PPBF, Wendy! I love true stories and think it is very valuable to read books like this with kids...it opens up the world so they can step into a different environment, a different time. I'll try to grab a copy at the library.

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