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The People Could Fly: The Picture Book by…

The People Could Fly: The Picture Book (2004)

by Virginia Hamilton

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This book's artful and beautiful illustrations highlight the tellng of a mythic story that retells the enslavement and emancipation of African-Americans. The story is moving and the illustrations model classical religious paintings with African-Americans as the focus and subject. Truly wonderful.

I found this book moving and beautiful to look at. The artistry of the images was of a very fine quality, which when combined with the text and deeper meaning, crafted a truly important cultural work of literature for young readers. The nature of the themes and history are of a mature nature, requiring a higher and more sophisticated level of reading, putting this in the higher end of the youth age spectrum. ( )
  abrial2433 | Mar 17, 2014 |
Beautiful African folktale of American slaves who could fly.
  TracyStrong | Nov 19, 2013 |
This book could be a powerful dialogue opener regarding slavery and freedom - hope and change in general - and the larger issue of equality/inequality we still face today; likely a topic for grade school level, maybe even tied to an equality lesson of some sort or Black history month etc.
  lawsonm | Mar 17, 2013 |
Genre: Folktale
Genre Critique: This book is a good example of folktale as this storyis encouraged throughout the book as one to be passed down from generation to generation. It is fast paced and full of action (goes from one scene to the next before reaching the climax and rounding out with the resolution toward the end). The setting seems to be more vague, but through the pictures the reader can see what the author is describing.
Plot Critique: The book has a very fast paced plot. We have the problem at the beginning (slaves being taken and hard treatment on the plantations) to the climax (breaking point for slaves, the old father steps in) to the resolution at the end where the slaves fly to freedom.
Review/Critique: I found this story to be really interesting. It tells the story of African slaves and their excape from slavery, but in a way that could tie their culture into the story (more so than what we normally see). It shows the picture of the slaves literally flying to their freedom, and one can only imagine that that must truley be what it felt like for them to be finally free.
  MkM | Mar 11, 2013 |
After reading the author's note in the back of this book, I find this to be a truly fascinating story that is extremely integrated into the folklore of African-American culture. The book tells the folk lore tale of how African slaves were able to fly away from slavery using the ancient and powerful magic of their homeland. The story itself has many variations in African-American culture and can be considered a metaphor for the literal and figurative escapes from slavery that African slaves would have made during the time period. It is a compelling tale that sparks the imagination and is important for African-American students to hear and be inspired by. ( )
  brandonachey | Nov 3, 2012 |
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Book description
This is a vibrant, both in prize-winning illustration and writing, re-tell of a Black folktale about slaves who had the magic ability to "fly" to freedom. While those who didn't have the ability used the power of imagination in passing along the story to set themselves free. This book could be a powerful dialogue opener regarding slavery and freedom - hope and change in general - and the larger issue of equality/inequality we still face today; likely a topic for grade school level, maybe even tied to an equality lesson of some sort or Black history month etc.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375824057, Hardcover)

“THE PEOPLE COULD FLY,” the title story in Virginia Hamilton’s prize-winning American Black folktale collection, is a fantasy tale of the slaves who possessed the ancient magic words that enabled them to literally fly away to freedom. And it is a moving tale of those who did not have the opportunity to “fly” away, who remained slaves with only their imaginations to set them free as they told and retold this tale.

Leo and Diane Dillon have created powerful new illustrations in full color for every page of this picture book presentation of Virginia Hamilton’s most beloved tale. The author’s original historical note as well as her previously unpublished notes are included.

Awards for The People Could Fly collection:

A Coretta Scott King Award

A Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice

A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

A Horn Book Fanfare

An ALA Notable Book

An NCTE Teachers’ Choice

A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:17 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In this retelling of a folktale, a group of slaves, unable to bear their sadness and starvation any longer, calls upon the African magic that allows them to fly away.

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